Give honour where honour is due
Suzie Melchior, branch Secretary of the Ballina Hospital Branch and RN in Emergency, writes of her thoughts on the NSW Government’s wages policy.
My first thought when I heard the rumours going around that they might not honour the opportunity for us to achieve a pay rise was that I felt insulted.
It’s not even about the pandemic; it is about the role we play in our communities and giving honour where honour is due. As Australians, we congratulate people and pat them on the back, and the only way the state government can do that is by honouring the pay increase to be in line with inflation and increased costs of living.
Right at the beginning when we heard that we would have to go to arbitration, I spoke to reporter Joanne Shoebridge on ABC North Coast Radio one morning, and the Northern Star made us their second-last front page spread before they finished. Back then, no-one had heard that nurses and teachers who had been through one of the most stressful years of their lives weren’t going to get a pay rise.
In the first six months of this year, there was a sense of uncertainty. My own husband had to go back to his first trade as a baker for four and a half months during the period when his regular employer reduced his days from five to three.
We’re just one example of many. I feel embarrassed talking about not getting a pay rise when people have lost all their income, and campaigning for a pay rise when I know there are local cafes and musicians who have had no income and had to line up in the job queue.
That is a situation I didn’t expect to be in, but our community supports one another, and I was making sure that I put my money where my mouth is as one of the first to line up at local cafes when they opened.
The farcical thing is that we are now going to get gift cards to spend $25 to go out. If the government just honoured the pay rise, they could start to talk about the impact they could have on the economy.
We are a huge tourist area around Ballina, Byron Bay and the North Coast. Even though COVID wasn’t an immediate threat for us, as far as having local cases, we’ve been as busy as we’ve ever been at the Ballina Hospital and in emergency.”