Pay freeze a ‘slap in the face’ for workers
NORTHERN Rivers MPs have slammed plans for a public sector wage freeze, saying it would be "a slap in the face" and "robbing" the "heroes" of the coronavirus pandemic.
Suzie Melchior, secretary of the Ballina Branch NSW Nurses & Midwives Association, said it is important for nurses to work together to keep the community safe.
"Sometimes it's tough, but I'm so proud of my colleagues and what we've achieved. We are all working so hard right now, doing more with less," she said.
"We've supported the people of NSW and now I'm asking for your support.
"I'm very concerned that the Treasurer wants to freeze the wages of thousands of nurses and midwives. We have sacrificed a lot for others during this time and deserve more respect."
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has confirmed he would not be offering a 2.5 per cent pay increase to every public service employee in the state.
This will affect the 750 teachers, 720 health workers and 118 police officers in the Ballina electorate, which includes Byron Bay.
The bill freezing public sector wages is expected to be discussed in the NSW Parliament again on June 2.
Ballina MP Tamara Smith said she didn't support the wage freeze.
"We obviously don't support a public sector wage freeze when our healthcare workers, teachers, police, school support staff, cleaners and social welfare workers are the absolute heroes through the pandemic," she said.
"We get that the budget has blown out, but robbing our frontline workers, who are paid so little, of a wage increase that simply keeps pace with the CPI is the wrong way to go."
Lismore MP Janelle Saffin also condemned the plan.
"This move is a slap in the face for our hardworking nurses and midwives in the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, a year in which our hospitals and GP practices have come under enormous stress," Ms Saffin said.
"Nurses and midwives follow a calling in their professions, but their essential work places them and their families at risk of contracting COVID-19. They deserve our thanks, support and our respect."
Labor Leader in the Legislative Council and Shadow Minister Industrial Relations and Shadow Minister the North Coast, Adam Searle, said that there are 807 health workers in the Lismore electorate.
Also in the Lismore area there are 653 school teachers, seven early childhood educators, 189 educational aids, 5 public transport drivers and 112 police, he said.
Mr Searle said the NSW Government could save more by abandoning its "wasteful, extravagant $1.5 billion plan to relocate the Powerhouse Museum" in Sydney.
"Hardworking cleaners, drivers, paramedics, nurses, teachers, police and many others risked their lives to look after our state during the pandemic - and now this government wants to thank them with a pay cut", Mr Searle said.
According to Mr Searle, the wage freeze would include at least 1590 workers in the Ballina electorate.
"Reasonable wage increases are a vital stimulus measure. It is time to put dollars in pockets, not take them away. A pay cut to 400,000 people will be a body blow to our economic recovery."
"Thanks to Gladys Berejiklian there are more than 1590 people in Ballina facing a pay cut at an already difficult time."
"Our struggling local small businesses will also suffer if people have less money in their pockets to spend. Whichever way you look at it, this just does not make sense."