The Batemans Bay branch of the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association (NSWNMA) held a rally today (Tuesday 2nd June 2020) in the open area next to Starfish Deli in Batemans Bay just hours ahead of the NSW Labor Party drawing a line in the sand for more than 400,000 NSW workers by successfully fighting back against a Berejiklian Government plan to cut their wages.
A disallowance motion brought by Labor in the Legislative Council has headed off a sneaky attempt to introduce measures that would have stopped a scheduled 2.5 per cent pay rise.
However when questioned in the Legislative Council, the Government refused to rule out pressing ahead with its plan by taking it straight to the Industrial Relations Commission.
The local protest met with support from the community with a branch spokesperson telling The Beagle "Our aim was to find community support and tell the state government to stop the wages freeze of public sector workers. Our local nurses are shocked and angered over this proposal."
The Labor Party said of their disallowance motion "Liberal and National MPs were attempting to slash the income of public workers such as health workers, cleaners, teachers, firefighters and police officers even though these people have been on the frontlines protecting our community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic."
NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay said: “Every single Liberal and National Party Member of Parliament who supported wage cuts for workers owes their community an explanation.”
The move came even as independent economic modelling from the Australia Institute has revealed the proposed wage cuts would have cut 1,100 jobs from the NSW economy.
The report outlines that for every $1 million invested in public worker wages two additional private sector jobs are created. The same amount invested in construction would only create one additional job.
The Australia Institute’s report also warned that cutting workers’ wages to fund infrastructure might accelerate job losses across the private sector in retail, hospitality and tourism.
Ms McKay said: “Why have Liberal and National Party MPs tried to take money out of our local communities in the middle of an economic crisis when we desperately need money circulating in the economy?”
“This attempt to cut wages isn’t just an insult to every worker who kept our community going during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was an act of economic vandalism.
“Labor will continue to fight the Berejiklian Government every step of the way. Our nurses, cleaners, police and firefighters are heroes. They deserve a medal, not a pay cut.” Unions NSW said, after public sector pay cut had been blocked in parliament "We won! This decision paves the way for a $3 billion injection into the NSW economy (creating up to 4,000 new jobs) and a well deserved pay rise for nurses, cleaners, firefighters, teachers, police and many more! A win-win for working people!" "This wouldn't have been possible without the thousands of supporters who joined our campaign against this pay cut. Thank you to Labor and the crossbench parties for listening and voting against this pay cut. If Gladys Berejiklian tries to take this to the courts, we will fight every step of the way". The NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association posted after the announcement :
"The NSW Upper House has voted down Premier Berejiklian’s cruel wage freeze for nurses and midwives. "This would not have been possible without the incredible efforts of NSWNMA members. From sending thousands of emails to politicians, to sharing social media posts and 60 branches protesting the freeze across the state. Your activism has delivered this incredible outcome. Well done."
NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association said " The Premier’s wage freeze is more insidious than meets the eye. For the average nurse battling COVID-19 today, they would lose over $60,000 over 20 years. That’s the thanks that you’re receiving for putting your lives and families on the line during this pandemic."