FMOs strike for better pay

Geelong FMOs Frank, Luke and Darren held a strike for better pay and recognition. (Ivan Kemp) 399877_05

Geelong ambulance fleet maintenance officers (FMOs) have walked off the job in a “historic first” for better pay and recognition.

FMOs from Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Hamilton, Horsham, Morwell, Shepparton and Wangaratta participated in a 24-hour strike on April 8, following 14 months of pay negotiations with Ambulance Victoria (AV).

North Geelong FMO Luke said FMOs were the mechanics that kept ambulance trucks operational and were often on call outside assigned hours.

“If the ambulances don’t start tomorrow morning, someone potentially doesn’t get seen to and passes away,” he said.

“Every time we do a COVID cleaning, we risk taking that back home to our families… and we just want recognition for the roles that we have taken on.

“Prior to COVID, we had a certain amount of boxes we had to tick, but our workloads have gone up by 177 per cent as the ambulances are doing more cases.

“At the end of the day, we just haven’t been recognised for the work we do. They’re paying us to be a mechanic, and we’re doing a lot more than mechanical work.”

United Workers Union national ambulance co-ordinator Fiona Scalon said the strike was a “historic first” as there was no record of FMOs taking this kind of action before.

“Our crews in fleet feel they have been given no other option but to take industrial action, and have voted accordingly,” she said.

“After 70-plus meetings, AV has failed to present an offer that addresses the cost-of-living crisis facing our members.

“AV doesn’t seem to ‘get’ how important fleet workers are in providing much-needed ambulance services in regional Victoria.”

An AV spokesperson said it respected people’s rights to “take protected action” during pay negotiations and that normal ambulance operations would not be impacted.

“If Victorians have an emergency and you need an ambulance, you will get one, and patient safety will not be impacted,” they said.

“AV continues to negotiate in good faith with employee representatives towards a mutually beneficial Ambulance Victoria Enterprise Agreement 2024.”

Visit to sign the Fair Pay for Ambulance Mechanics petition and more information.