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Friday, April 23, 2021

Government slugs hospital staff as free parking ends

As nurses and midwives roll up their sleeves for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, many are angry the NSW Government has been quick to claw back a paid parking reprieve at the state’s public hospitals.

From 5 April, NSW Health will resume charging hospital staff up to $23.60 a week to park at their workplaces.

And, the move’s been slammed by Wallsend state MP Sonia Hornery.

“In 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic began, NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard introduced free parking for all staff at NSW Hospitals,” she said.

“But, this week, it has been announced the NSW Government intends to end it next month.

“This disgraceful decision was made without any consultation and follows a year in which health staff have continuously supported their communities, often risking their own safety to help others.

“The pandemic isn’t over, however any progress we have made is largely due to the extraordinary efforts of health workers.

“This government has cut their pay increase and added severe financial distress to the list of things they have to worry about.

“Now, they want to slug them with parking fees.”

Ms Hornery admitted she was dismayed by the government’s stance.

“I moved a Notice of Motion in Parliament last year that was unanimously supported to continue the free parking currently being given to all hospital workers during the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.

“Our healthcare employees are on the frontline of our battle with coronavirus and we need to do whatever we can to support them during this difficult time.

“We should be showing our appreciation for all indispensable frontline workers in NSW hospitals by continuing the free parking for staff.

“This simple measure goes a long way to show staff they are supported during this health crisis.”

NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) general secretary Brett Holmes also weighed in, adding the government had been quick to forget the “gold standard” efforts of its own health workforce.

“Despite being on the COVID-19 frontline for 12 challenging months, and the vaccine rollout in its infancy, the government still wants to slug nurses, midwives and all other health staff with paid parking at public hospitals,” he said.

“These men and women have barely received a 0.3% increase in their pay and already the government wants them to open their wallets again.

“It’s a disgrace.

“For some, that’s more than $1,200 a year in parking fees that they’ll need to find within their family budgets.”

During Budget Estimates last Thursday, the NSW Government also confirmed it would pursue a new 1.5% wages policy cap through the NSW Industrial Relations Commission (IRC).

“Adding insult to injury, this government is hellbent on suppressing wages growth in NSW,” Me Holmes said.

“It will drag hardworking health employees through an unnecessary IRC process yet again before agreeing to any pay rises.

“A punishing wage cap of 1.5% for public sector workers won’t get supported in the NSW Parliament, so the government will spend even more taxpayer dollars pursuing its agenda through the IRC.

“It’s ludicrous.”

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