Wage freeze sours International Nurses’ Day

As thousands of nurses prepare for their shifts this International Nurses’ Day (12 May), public sector workers across the state face the prospect of a cruel wage freeze being legislated by the NSW Government.
On a day when the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) highlights the achievements of all nurses across the public, private and aged care sectors, celebrations have been dampened by an imminent wage freeze.
NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, said nurses were devastated frontline health and other public sectors workers face a wage freeze, despite the NSW Treasurer claiming to “always put people before numbers”.
“It’s no surprise our members are upset the government intends to bring on this wage freeze, instead of honouring a modest 2.5% pay increase from 1 July,” said Mr Holmes.
“Over 93% of our public sector members indicated their opposition to a wage freeze in a snap poll, while more than 4,000 have emailed their local State MPs, urging them to reject it.
“While risking their lives to protect our community during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s abhorrent to be asking frontline nurses to do more for less.
“COVID-19 has challenged our public health preparedness and emphasised the incredible resilience of all nurses. They deserve to be recognised for the sacrifices they continue to make.”
Assistant General Secretary, Judith Kiejda, reiterated the importance of International Nurses’ Day.
“We kicked off 2020 preparing celebrations to recognise our professions for the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. However, COVID-19 unfolded and has been a wrecking ball around the globe,” Ms Kiejda said.
“Sadly, more than 270 nurses across 29 countries have died in the fight against COVID-19. Tonight, nurses in Australia and New Zealand will honour their lives, tragically lost while caring for COVID-19 patients.”
NSWNMA member and registered nurse, Sue, said even though aged care nursing was extremely hard during this time, it was still very satisfying to go to work.
“Everybody should be treated with respect and dignity and if I can just do this, it is my life’s work, I am happy,” said Sue.
Intensive Care nurse and NSWNMA member, Alison, said nursing continues to be a privilege.
“Being able to help somebody whether a patient, relative or nervous young nurse sounds trite but it’s what has kept me in this profession for all these years,” Alison said.

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