Treasurer’s new wage cuts rotten to the core

One month after being dealt a bitter 0.3% wage freeze for 2020, thousands of nurses and midwives who have kept public hospitals and health services running across NSW will now face further wage constraints.

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

The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) represents more than 45,000 public sector nurses and midwives who were already reeling from the 0.3% wage freeze, delivered as they continue to tackle COVID-19.

NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, said the Treasurer’s decision to cap wages growth at 1.5% and hint actual pay rises could be even less from next year was opportunistic and economically reckless.

“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?

“For the past nine years, public sector workers have received a 2.5% wage increase to spend in their local shops and support local businesses. Now the Berejiklian Government is using the pandemic as an excuse to penalise the very people who have worked through COVID-19 and kept NSW 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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