Ambos to defend industrial actions

PEOPLE across the Northern Rivers who called an ambulance over the weekend rode for free due to an industrial dispute between the Health Services Union (HSU) and the Ambulance Service of NSW.

The paperwork bans were implemented in response to the Ambulance Service's allocation of paramedics to horse races on the North Coast recently.

The HSU claimed the Ambulance Service was using on-duty crews to cover race meetings instead of rostering on additional crews and was depleting the communities of ambulance resources.

Race clubs pay for paramedic attendance so the use of additional staff was meant to be cost-neutral, said Tom Stevanga, HSU East assistant manager of industrial services.

The HSU implemented the bans on Friday but the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) forced the union to lift the bans on Monday.

The HSU will go before the IRC to defend their actions next Monday. Mr Stevanga said supplying paramedics to horse races was meant to be cost-neutral, but by using on-duty crews meant the Ambulance Service was actually making money.

"The consequence is the community is down a duty crew during a four-to-six-hour race meet," he said.

"We will be back before the IRC on Monday and will be putting our case forward as to why the bans were in place and for the Ambulance Service to become accountable for its actions."

A NSW Ambulance spokesman confirmed on-duty crews were used to cover race meets on the North Coast recently but said the action adhered to their major and sporting events policy.

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