Treasurer’s desperate wage freeze ‘sweetener’ leaves sour taste

Nurses and midwives say they are insulted at a last-ditch attempt by the NSW Government, as it tries to press ahead with a wage freeze on all public sector workers.

The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) has described a $1000 one-off cash payment proposed by Treasurer Dominic Perrottet on Sunday night as a poor attempt to buy off nurses and midwives.

NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, said it wasn’t an offer or a negotiation in good faith, but an 11th hour ultimatum by a government desperate to freeze public sector workers’ wages.

“The NSW government is effectively trying to silence 50,000 nurses and midwives with a $1000 payment, short-changing them on the sacrifices they have made and continue to make every day,” said Mr Holmes.

“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.

“It’s an extremely insulting and reckless decision by the Treasurer, cloaked in desperation.

“First, the Treasurer claimed a wage freeze was necessary but frontline health workers would be exempt; next he claimed the entire public sector workforce would need to take one for the team because every dollar had to be invested in jobs; now he’s threatening no job guarantees – it’s disgraceful.

“The government must acknowledge the efforts of nurses and midwives and honour their 2.5% pay increase, anything less is simply a slap in the face.

“Nurses and midwives are hurting. They’ve shown up for work, shift after shift, to protect their communities in this pandemic, which isn’t over, and this is how they’re repaid.

“This is nothing more than a cowardly act by the government to move ahead with their wage freeze, despite the Prime Minister confirming on Friday that no state would be left worse off as a result of COVID‑19 and also gifted NSW an extra $9.3 billion in health funding.

“We’ll continue to fight this wage freeze and look forward to a showdown on Tuesday when state parliament resumes. After sending over 95,000 emails to upper and lower house MPs, our members will also be taking to the streets in their communities.”

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