Nurses and midwives from across the Hunter are planning to take to the streets of Newcastle next week to publicly voice their disappointment over a pay rise freeze.
The frontline healthcare workers say they feel they have been dealt a “bitter blow right in the middle of COVID-19”.
The protest plans come after the NSW Government confirmed on May 27 that it would freeze all public sector wages.
In response, the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) says it rejects “assertions by Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Treasurer Dominic Perrottet that frontline health workers have not sacrificed enough already”.
NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, said he believed the government was disingenuous when it suggested it was “deeply grateful” for the efforts of nurses and midwives and then refuse a modest 2.5% pay increase.
“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,” he 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.
“Nurse and midwives have been spat on, abused and discriminated against throughout this pandemic. Despite this, they have showed up for their shifts, unclear what each day would bring, now they’re being told they must do more for less.
“To suggest nurses, midwives and other public sector workers have not sacrificed enormously over the past four months is quite frankly, insulting. They have worked their guts out.”
Mr Holmes said the decision would affect the whole community.
“The Premier and Treasurer are ignoring how a public sector wage freeze will impact rural and regional NSW,” he said.
“These communities rely on nurses and midwives to spend their wages in local businesses.
“After suffering through drought, bushfires and now COVID-19, it beggars belief the government wants to make it even harder for these communities to recover.”
NSWNMA Members across the state have begun voicing their opposition to the wage freeze publicly.
Newcastle member Darius Altmann said he was hoping at least 40 nurses and midwives would join him on Tuesday 2 June at the entrance to the John Hunter Hospital.
“We’d love to have four groups of ten, one group on each corner of the main intersection,” he said.
“We feel insulted. We feel the Government has ignored our sacrifices and they’ve been cruel to us.
“This is our chance to tell them.”
The NSWNMA is considering all options and continuing discussions with the Opposition and Crossbench MPs to block the government’s public sector wage freeze.