FIRST Union, the union representing 1200 Ambulance Professionals at St John, are calling on the Government to intervene in what can only be described as “Mass Wage Theft”.
FIRST Union has filed for urgency in the Employment Court for compliance with an agreement reached in 2019 that St John would introduce penal rates for night and weekend work of 1.25% per hour from July this year if agreement could not be reached on an alternative model.
St John wrote to FIRST Union in June 2019, claiming that they could not afford to pay the agreed penal rates, but did not provide an option for an alternative model or delay of the agreed rates.
St John have since received up to $30m in Government funding for this purpose – significantly more than the cost of the agreed rates – but they are still refusing to honour the agreement with FIRST Union, and ambulance professionals are still not receiving the agreed pay rates.
FIRST Union spokesperson Sarah Stone says St John’s refusal to honour the agreement amounts to mass wage theft from ambulance professionals and taxpayers.
“These workers reached a legally binding agreement with St John that covers their employment on the basis that from this year onwards, they would not be earning less than the agreed penal rates,” said Ms Stone.
“They’ve done their part – including working through the Covid-19 pandemic, the eruption of Whakaari and the Christchurch shootings – and now St John are withholding money from them in an attempt to leverage them into agreeing to something else that suits them better.”
“This is wage theft of the worse kind. We are likely talking in excess of $5m dollars that has already been withheld from these workers.”
“Our ambulance professionals deserve better, and the New Zealand public deserve to know that this is how their ambulance service is being run by St John.”
“The Labour Government must not sit back and let this wage theft happen.”
FIRST Union ambulance professionals across New Zealand are withdrawing their labour on October 25th and October 28th in what is believed to be the first full strike in the ambulance sector in New Zealand history.