NSW falls behind other states in pay and respect
The Queensland Government’s pay offer to the state’s nurses and midwives makes a mockery of the NSW Premier’s claim that his deal is the highest in the land.
First, there was a decade of wage caps at 2.5 per cent. Then a contemptuous 0.3 per cent pay rise for public sector nurses and midwives in the first year of the COVID pandemic. In the following year, 2021, there was a 1.5 per cent increase.
Yet, Premier Dominic Perrottet has the audacity to publicly say NSW is the best paying state.
This year the Perrottet government has raised its wage cap to 3 per cent and up to 3.5 per cent in 2023–24 – but only if there are productivity offsets.
NSW will also make a one-off $3000 payment to permanent NSW Health workers “to recognise their work on the frontline of the COVID-19 epidemic”.
Queensland, by contrast, has rewarded its nurses and midwives for their stellar efforts during COVID with an offer of an 11 per cent pay rise over three years plus a top-up cost-of-living payment of up to 3 per cent a year.
They will receive 4 per cent in the first year of the agreement, 4 per cent for the second year and 3 per cent for the third year.
The cost-of-living top-up payment would be a lump sum equal to the difference between the inflation rate and the base wage increase for that year, up to a maximum of 3 per cent.
For example, if inflation increases to 7 per cent – as has been predicted by the Reserve Bank – they would receive a 4 per cent increase plus a further 3 per cent as a lump sum in order to keep their wages in line with inflation.
The Queensland offer also has an increase in Sunday penalty rates from 175 per cent to double time and paid Pandemic Leave of up to 20 days (before the use of personal/sick leave) for COVID-positive nurses, among other gains.
Both Premier Perrottet and his deputy Paul O’Toole have claimed that Victorian nurses have only been offered 1.5 per cent “and they’re not going out on strike”.
In fact, Victorian nurses aren’t even in a bargaining period at this moment and have already negotiated a 3 per cent increase they will receive in December. They also got 3 per cent last December and 3 per cent the December before.
That compares with the 2.5 per cent, 0.5 per cent, and 1.5 per cent wage rises “granted” by the NSW Government over the last three years.
NSWNMA Assistant General Secretary Shaye Candish says NSW is falling further and further behind other states, which have implemented ratios and have rewarded their nurses and midwives with higher pay.
“The wage rises and ‘cost-of-living payment’ on offer to Queensland public sector nurses and midwives is reflective of a state government that respects and values their nurses and midwives,” she said.
“We know NSW nurses and midwives have already moved to work in Queensland and Victoria, where they have safer staffing levels in their public hospitals as a result of mandated nurse-to-patient ratios.
“Now we’re concerned more will follow, as their wages continue to go backwards under a broken wages system.”
What Queensland nurses and midwives have been offered
- A four per cent increase in the first year of their agreement, four per cent for the second year and three per cent for the third year.
- Plus a cost-of-living top-up payment that would be a lump sum equal to the difference between the inflation rate and the base wage increase for that year, up to a maximum of three per cent.
- Queensland has already impl-emented shift-by-shift ratios.