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NSW treasurer Dominic Perrottet (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

NSW nurses face wage freeze in upcoming budget

NSW treasurer Dominic Perrottet has announced that the Berejiklian Government will cap annual public sector wages growth at 1.5 per cent in the upcoming NSW Budget, to reportedly save an extra $1.8 billion over three years.

The union representing nurses in the state, the NSWNMA, described the move as “rotten to the core”.

NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, said the Treasurer’s decision to cap wages growth is opportunistic and puts the workforce in the state in danger.

“At a time when the Berejiklian Government should be investing in wages and securing the future of our health workforce, they are locking NSW into a low wage, low growth future that will send nurses and midwives interstate,” said Mr Holmes.

“Why wouldn’t a nurse want to flee to Queensland or Victoria where they can work with better pay and legislated nurse-to-patient ratios?

Back in June The NSW government also put nurses offside with the announcement of the planned public sector pay increase of 2.5 per cent as they aimed to save $3 Billion during the height of the pandemic.

This was blocked by the opposition in the state's upper house, with the government then referring the matter to the NSW Industrial Relations Commission, as reported by the SMH.

In October, the commission ruled that wages should be capped at 0.3 per cent for 12 months, ending nine years of 2.5 per cent pay increases.

"I think if you look at our wages policy here in NSW compared to anywhere else in the country it's completely fair and reasonable and very generous in the circumstances," said Perrottet.

Holmes said that health workers use the expected pay rise to contribute to the local economy, spending in local shops and supporting local business and the freeze is no way to thank the people who have worked through the pandemic to keep the public safe.

“Queensland, Victoria and South Australia have all managed to recognise the contribution of their public sector workforces with modest increases, yet the Berejiklian Government refuses to acknowledge their worth in NSW.

“Public sector wages influence private sector wages and when employers in the private sector see no real wage growth occurring around them, they also put the brakes on. The Treasurer is blatantly ignoring this and will force our economy further in a downward spiral – the opposite of what we need to recover.

“It’s a low blow from the Treasurer and Premier who are bullishly determined to prioritise hard-hats and high-vis opportunities over securing the future of our health workforce in NSW.”

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