Nurses working on the front line of the COVID-19 response say now is not the time for the government to be freezing their wages, especially as the sector prepares for a “second wave”.
On the eve of International Nurses’ Day, the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association has issued a statement condemning plans by the NSW government to legislate a public sector wage freeze.
The proposed change could be pushed through parliament as soon as tomorrow.
The NSWNMA is lobbying opposition and crossbench politicians to reject the government’s public sector wage freeze.
According to a report in The Lamp, NSWNMA general secretary, Brett Holmes, criticized NSW treasurer Dominic Perrottet for denying a modest pay rise for nurses and midwives, who are on putting themselves in harm’s way during COVID-19, while claiming at other times that he will “put people before numbers”.
“The government cannot deny the sacrifices of frontline workers, especially when more than half of the 144 NSW Health workers who have contracted COVID-19, acquired it while at work,” Mr Holmes said.
“Thousands of nurses, midwives, other health sector workers and public servants are risking their lives daily to keep fellow citizens safe.
“These workers deserve recognition, not attempts by government to send wages backwards and our economy into further turmoil,” Mr Holmes said.
“We are all preparing for a second wave of COVID-19, yet the government is asking nurses and midwives to do more for less, putting the budget bottom line before people in need.”
Mr Holmes said proposing a wage freeze for front line workers at this time was “a disgrace”.
“Nurses have been spat on and abused, forced to deal with a lack of personal protective equipment and put themselves, and their families, at risk each shift,” he said.
“As restrictions continue to ease, our community is eager to return to some form of normality, but frontline workers won’t get to share that privilege and are now expected to sacrifice even more financially.”
“The middle of a pandemic is hardly the time to be asking frontline nurses and midwives to suck it up, show up for their shifts and do even more for less.
“Taking the steps to legislate this wage freeze ahead of International Nurses’ Day (12 May) is also a horrible reflection of what our government really thinks of nurses, midwives and other public sector workers.”