Nurses fighting COVID-19 left out in cold by NSW government wage freeze

NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association advise that the NSW Government intends to ram through legislation for a wage freeze for nurses and midwives, possibly as early as tomorrow. A spokesperson said "It’s a horrible reflection of what our Government really thinks of nurses and midwives, particularly through this pandemic." "Nurses and midwives in the South East, already pushed to extremes by the summer of bushfires and then the Covid situation are disappointed that the Member for Bega, Andrew Constance, has been silent on the push by his government to ram through legislation for a public sector wage freeze". On the eve of International Nurses’ Day, the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) has attacked plans by the NSW Government to ram through legislation for a public sector wage freeze, as early as tomorrow when parliament resumes for special sessions. NSW Labor Shadow Minister for Health Ryan Park said: “You won’t find a clearer expression of the Berejiklian Government’s twisted priorities. Gladys Berejiklian and Dominic Perrottet are planning to deliver an effective wage cut for our nurses who have served our community so well over the course of a global pandemic.”

“This planned pay cut is not just a slap in the face for nurses across NSW, but it will also be devastating for our economy. Now more than ever we need people spending in NSW. An effective wage cut to thousands of workers will be devastating for business as well.”

“My message to Gladys Berejiklian and Dominic Perrottet is simply this: don’t even think about going near the wages and conditions of our nurses and allied health workers. They are heroes. Labor will stand with them every step of the way. Don’t even go there.” Ryan Park NSW Labor Shadow Minister for Health

The NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association, together with public sector unions representing all workers keeping NSW safe during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, has called on state opposition and crossbench politicians to vigorously reject any wage freeze proposals.

NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, slammed NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet for hypocritically claiming to “always put people before numbers”, then deny workers on the COVID-19 frontline, including nurses and midwives, a modest wage increase from 1 July.

“The government cannot deny the sacrifices of frontline workers, especially when more than half of the 144 NSW Health workers who have contracted COVID-19, acquired it while at work,” said Mr Holmes.

“Thousands of nurses, midwives, other health sector workers and public servants are risking their lives daily to keep fellow citizens safe. These workers deserve recognition, not attempts by government to send wages backwards and our economy into further turmoil.

“We are all preparing for a second wave of COVID-19, yet the government is asking nurses and midwives to do more for less, putting the budget bottom line before people in need.

“The Treasurer wants to ignore the efforts of frontline workers and unions operating in good faith, by planning a wage freeze for all public sector workers. It’s a disgrace.

“Nurses have been spat on and abused, forced to deal with a lack of Personal Protective Equipment and put themselves, and their families, at risk each shift.

“As restrictions continue to ease, our community is eager to return to some form of normality, but frontline workers won’t get to share that privilege and are now expected to sacrifice even more financially.

“Some of our members have witnessed a partner become unemployed or have had their shifts reduced. With partners ineligible for welfare, many frontline workers rely on a modest pay increase to help meet rising cost of living pressures.

“The middle of a pandemic is hardly the time to be asking frontline nurses and midwives to suck it up, show up for their shifts and do even more for less.

“Taking the steps to legislate this wage freeze ahead of International Nurses’ Day (12 May) is also a horrible reflection of what our government really thinks of nurses, midwives and other public sector workers.”

The NSWNMA has begun lobbying opposition and crossbench MPs to reject the government’s public sector wage freeze.