Australia

Gladys Berejiklian announces 12-month wage freeze for NSW public sector workers

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is urging people not to attend the protests. Source: AAP

The NSW government will pause public sector pay rises for 12 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic and has promised to make no one redundant.

The NSW government has paused public sector pay rises for 12 months amid the COVID-19 pandemic and says it will not make any of its workers redundant during that time.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian last week said her government was seeking a freeze on pay rises for MPs.

On Wednesday she extended that freeze to the NSW entire public NSW of almost 410,000 workers, including teachers and nurses, to temporarily save about $3 billion.

"Every spare dollar we have and every dollar we don't have, we need to spend in health and also in jobs and job security - that is the priority," Ms Berejiklian told reporters.

The state opposition said it would fight the move and that public servants deserved “a medal, not a pay cut”.

“Today Gladys Berejiklian thanked the heroes who risked their lives and served NSW during the COVID-19 crisis with a pay cut," NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay said.

“This is a kick in the guts for people like teachers, nurses and health workers, bus and train drivers, cleaners, security guards and so many more who’ve had our back.”

The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association described the move as an insult to tens of thousands of nurses that have been working hard during the pandemic. 

NSWNMA general secretary, Brett Holmes, said the government was disingenuous to say it was “deeply grateful” for the efforts of nurses and midwives, then refuse a modest 2.5 per cent pay increase.

The NSW Government wants to freeze the pay of public servants, including nurses.
The NSW Government wants to freeze the pay of public servants, including nurses.
AAP

“Month after month, nurses and midwives have showed up for their shifts, helped tackle the worst pandemic our health system has ever seen and kept our community safe,” Mr Holmes said.

“Our members have stood at the bedside for hours on end, caring for patients, sweating under layers of personal protective equipment – at times wearing substandard equipment – because of their commitment to saving lives. Yet the government’s response is to freeze their wages."

NSW Teachers Federation President Angelo Gavrielatos said the freeze was “a slap in the face”.

“Whether this decision impacts today or in 12 month’s time, it still amounts to a pay cut and will be resisted by our members,” Mr Gavrielatos said.

Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force data in April showed more than 220,000 people in NSW lost their jobs, as the spread of COVID-19 battered the state economy.

Total employee wages for NSW also fell 4.9 per cent between 14 March and 2 May.

Ms Berejiklian has also guaranteed no public sector workers in NSW would over the next 12 months be given forced redundancies, barring senior executives.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits. Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

The federal government's coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone's app store.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.

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