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December 6, 2021

Protest at Byron Hospital over wage freeze

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The Byron Central Hospital branch of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association demonstrated against the proposed wage freeze for public sector workers. Photo supplied.

The Byron Central Hospital branch of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) has condemned the NSW government plan to freeze public sector workers’ wages that will also include police and teachers wages.

They say NSW Parliament will consider the freeze on June 2, which the trade union group say would deny the sector a pay increase from July 2020.

Demonstrating their opposition to the wage freeze nurses and midwives stood outside the Byron Hospital on Ewingsdale Road at 3.30pm on Wednesday May 20. They received support from passing drivers who were blowing their horns, waving and giving them the thumbs up signal.

‘It is heartbreaking to see the same extraordinary nurses and midwives that have risked their health and that of their families during the pandemic, having to take to the streets of Byron to defend their livelihoods,’ local MP Tamara Smith said speaking to Echonetdaily.

‘We are not talking about a pay rise commensurate with what nurses and midwives actually do! We are talking about a 2.3 per cent pay rise promised before the pandemic to simply keep up with CPI.

‘The NSW government’s plan to freeze wages for our nurses and midwives and our police and teachers, our school support staff and social welfare workers is too cruel.

‘This is how we reward the same men and women who have been on the frontline, unable to work from home and literally in harm’s way!

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‘How about the government stop paying tax credits to the mining sector and the gambling industry in NSW this year so we can at least give our essential workers enough of a wage increase to keep up with inflation.

‘We should be discussing lifting the wages of every public sector worker in NSW in a way that truly reflects their value to us as a society.’

Local NSWNMA representative Elizabeth McCall says the wage freeze, ‘Shows a profound lack of respect for our professions, given the risk of COVID-19 to us and our families… and in the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife!

‘The Byron Central Hospital branch of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association members believe that it is blatantly unfair to impose this freeze when some of the NSW government top bureaucrats have received up to a 12.5 per cent salary increase within the last year, whereas nurses and midwives are fighting to retain their annual 2.5 per cent increase. The branch believes this decision making puts the NSW government beyond the pale, as not so long ago they lauded us as “heroes” and “angels” during the COVID-19 crisis when we were undertaking their professional roles,  but give us a slap in the face when we ask for our legislated pay rise in July, in keeping with the cost of living index.

‘Nurses and midwives have enough stressors in their lives at the moment. We implore the NSW Government to honour the legislated, minuscule pay rise when it falls due,’ said Ms McCall.

‘Casuals have gone without work, and part-timers are missing out on extra shifts. Our family members have lost their jobs. And now we are expected to carry the economical, as well as the health burden, of COVID-19. Freezing wages, cutting government spending and other austerity measures are proven to prolong recessions.

‘New research findings from the Australia Institute Centre for Future Work released on 16 April, 2020 indicate a public sector wage freeze is counterproductive as:

  1. i) It is offset by the loss of direct tax revenues that would have been collected as a result of higher income and spending by public servants.
  2. ii) Freezing pay for even short periods reduces the lifetime income and superannuation savings of public sector workers by tens of thousands of dollars, because it permanently reduces their lifetime wage trajectory.

‘If you want workers to spend, you need to pay them more!’


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