Strong, united and determined to win is how paramedics confronted the state government today.
More than 500 paramedics vowed by unanimous vote to maintain their fight for wage justice and an ambulance service that works for Victorians.
The rally marking the second anniversary of the Code Red campaign also passed a unanimous vote of no-confidence in the Premier and Health Minister, and paramedic Morgyn McCarthy condemned the government’s bids to split the union.
“This government has tried many times to divide us,” Morgyn declared after the march to the Premier’s office.
“We are the union. We are not giving up and we will not back down.
“Through the ongoing support of the Victorian public and a united workforce we will win this dispute.”
Federal Opposition leader Bill Shorten mingled with members and posed for selfies long after delivering a rousing tribute to the members’ unity and professionalism.
“I am like most Australians. I have never worked an ambulance shift. I have never been to the dark and dangerous places you go,” Mr Shorten said.
“Like other Australian parents there have been times I say ‘thank God for the ambos’.”
Mr Shorten condemned the Napthine Government for allowing the wage claim to linger for two years, but told members they need last “just one day longer” than the government to win.
“No self-respecting government lets a strike or a dispute go for two years. That’s negligent,” he said, before congratulating members on discovering a new industrial tactic.
“I don’t think anyone realised until this campaign that an ambulance could be a political statement…a blackboard of right and wrong.”
The members’ march from Trades Hall to Spring Street was marked by a spontaneous display from an ambulance crew in Collins Street. Stopped in traffic as the rally passed, the driver leapt out to scrawl ‘FAIR DEAL!’ on the side window to roars of applause from marchers.
Capturing the spirit, the rally’s stand-in Denis Napthine, complete with paper mache mask, proceeded to kick the ambulance’s tyres as if to capture the government’s ineffectiveness.
Building workers stopped and applauded the ambos as they passed down Russell Street. In solidarity, members from Trades Hall, the National Union of Workers, the Australian Nurses Federation and the Police Association joined the march.
The pre-march rally was also notable for a standing ovation from the members for their leaders whom the government has tried to portray as out of touch with the membership.
If Denis and David could have been there, instead of only their effigies, they’d have learned something about what they are up against.
As Bill Shorten said: “It’s over. The only problem is the government doesn’t know it yet.”