Home | News | Unions blast government pay freeze for essential workers
NSW treasurer Dominic Perrottet (right) arrives to speak to the media on May 31st 2020. Photo: AAP/ Joel Carrett

Unions blast government pay freeze for essential workers

The NSW government is pushing ahead with plans to put a freeze on all public sector pay, including nurses and other frontline workers.

The freeze would scrap the planned 2.5 per cent wage increase and the treasurer said this would amount to $3 billion in savings for the state, with the money going to increased public spending and more jobs.

However, the move faced a hostile cross bench, with Labor and the Greens signifying intent to block the passing of any such bill.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, perhaps sensing defeat, announced on Monday that he would offer the workers a one-off stimulus payment of $1000 and a promise of no forced redundancies if the bill is let through the upper house.

The new plan was put to union leaders on Sunday night, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on Monday, with this new outlay expected to cost the state $200 million.

Unions NSW secretary Mark Morey on Monday said in a statement the one-off payment was tantamount to short-changing workers, while the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association described the one-off payment as "insulting" and an attempt to silence nurses and midwives.

"The government is deliberately attempting to hoodwink our members and is threatening job cuts if the upper house successfully blocks the government's wage freeze regulation," general secretary Brett Holmes said in a statement.

“This is how nurses and midwives are treated for keeping our communities safe and saving lives throughout the COVID-19 pandemic? Essentially saying: ‘Sorry about your wage freeze, here’s a fraction of what you’re owed to keep quiet’.
“A one-off payment is not an act of generosity from the Treasurer. The government is deliberately attempting to hoodwink our members and is threatening job cuts if the upper house successfully blocks the government’s wage freeze regulation.  

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said public sector jobs would otherwise be at risk and frontline workers had received 2.5 per cent annual pay rises since the coalition took office in Macquarie Street in 2011.

The Health Services Union NSW is also critical of the payment and called for an overhaul of the award system and the wages policy.

"Hospital cleaners, ward clerks, hospital admin, allied health workers and paramedics deserve a system that recognises their contribution and their skills," HSU NSW secretary Gerard Hayes said in a statement.

He said the union is seeking an urgent meeting with the treasurer to discuss these issues.

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