Healthcare workers take industrial action over NSW pay freeze

Jun 02, 2020


Paramedics have begun taking industrial action while nurses and midwives will undertake rolling demonstrations outside NSW parliament to protest the state government's proposed 12-month public pay freeze for public servants.

Paramedics on Monday began their action with a ban on collecting patient billing information while members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association will protest outside parliament from Tuesday.

The state government wants to freeze the pay of all public servants due to the economic damage wrought by COVID-19 restrictions.

The move is estimated to save $3 billion, to be reinvested in public projects.


General images of a surgeon preparing for theatre at Liverpool Hospital, Sydney on Tuesday, June 11, 2013.  (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts) NO ARCHIVING

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The government later offered public servants a one-off $1000 stimulus payment, costing about $200 million, with Treasurer Dominic Perrottet arguing it would leave the government with $2.8 billion to reinvest.

If the offer was rejected and the NSW upper house rejected the government's proposal, the pay freeze would go to the industrial relations commission.

"In a decision between giving people a pay cheque or a pay rise, I'll choose a pay cheque every day of the week," Mr Perrottet told 2GB Radio on Tuesday.


But the suggestion has been labelled by unions as insulting, with the Australian Paramedics Association executive urging action.

"For months we have put our health and our lives on the line in the COVID-19 pandemic, prior to that we worked through months of fires and then floods," the APA executive said in a statement on Monday.

"Standing alongside our colleagues, we have been at the frontline of all these crises. Despite this, all the NSW government has for us is empty words."

As well as the billing ban, the association is urging members to use liquid chalk to write slogans on their ambulances against the pay freeze.



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NSWNMA general secretary Brett Holmes on Tuesday said nurses and midwives felt insulted by the government's action and frustrated by the "hollow thank yous" from Mr Perrottet and Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

Mr Holmes said nurses and midwives would rely upon key members of the NSW upper house on Tuesday to block the government's proposal.

Ms Berejiklian has warned public sector jobs are at risk if Labor and crossbenchers block the pay freeze. The government has pledged it will not make any forced redundancies for 12 months if its freeze is accepted.


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