Picking the pockets of nurses and midwives
NSW Treasurer, Dominic Perrotet, thinks a miserly 0.3 per cent pay increase for the next 12 months followed by a pay cap of 1.5 per cent in following years is “completely fair and very generous”. Nurses and midwives think otherwise.
The Berejiklian government has dealt a double whammy to nurses and midwives by taking fair wage increases off the table for the foreseeable future.
The government announced in the budget that a paltry 0.3 per cent pay increase over the next 12 months will be followed by a pay cap of 1.5 per cent in future years.
“I think if you look at our wages policy here in NSW compared to anywhere else in the country, it’s completely fair and reasonable and very generous,” the NSW Treasurer, Dominic Perrotet, told The Sydney Morning Herald.
NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, rubbished this claim.
“If the NSW Treasurer thinks paying a pittance to the health workforce that stopped COVID-19 in its tracks is ‘fair and generous’, he must be living in a parallel universe to the nurses who have put their lives on the line for the wellbeing of this state this year,” he said.
The government’s latest wage policy comes after an attempt earlier this year to impose a public sector wage freeze.
In May, the Association along with other public sector unions brought the case before the NSW Industrial Relations Commission after the government ignored members’ claims for a new Award and with a 2.5 per cent wages cap still in place.
After a campaign across the state, and with the support of local businesses in communities where the spending by public sector workers is vital for economic recovery, MPs blocked the freeze in the upper house.
The government consequently argued vigorously for a zero-percentage increase in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission.
The Commission ruled a 0.3 per cent wage increase for the next 12 months to 30 June after years of 2.5 per cent wage increases.
In 2021, members will be forced again to argue our case in the Commission for anything above zero up to 1.5 per cent.
A low-wage low-growth future
Brett said the government’s new wage policy was flawed economics and ran contrary to the global trend to stimulate economies out of the COVID-induced downturn.
“At a time when the Berejiklian government should be investing in nurses and midwives’ wages and securing the future of our health workforce, they are locking NSW into a low-wage, low-growth future,” he said.
Brett said the NSW Government was an outlier in Australia, with other states boosting the wages and conditions of their nursing and midwifery workforces.
“Why wouldn’t a nurse or midwife want to flee to Queensland or Victoria where they can work with better pay and legislated nurse-to-patient ratios?
“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.”
NSW Opposition leader, Jodi McKay, said the government’s attack on public sector wages was an act of economic vandalism and a betrayal of public sector workers.
“The Treasurer is picking the pockets of workers to pay for his economic mismanagement,” she said.
Other states reward their nurses and midwives
NSW stands alone in the Commonwealth in targeting nurses and midwives to carry the brunt of the economic fallout from the coronavirus.
- In South Australia, nurses and midwives have reached agreement on two per cent increases per year over the next three years.
- In Victoria, nurses and midwives will receive a three per cent increase in December 2020.
- In Tasmania, public sector nurses and midwives received a 2.3 per cent pay rise from 1 December 2019, to be followed by a 2.3 per cent, a 2.35 per cent, and a 2.35 per cent increase in the following years to 2023.
- Queensland has delayed a 2.5 per cent pay rise for the public sector this year. But unlike NSW, Queensland is proposing to catch up by paying two increases next year.