The NSW Government should be thanking its essential workers in the public sector for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic and the catastrophic fire season, not handing them a pay freeze.
The public sector stopped the virus. It fought the fires. There is no group of worker in NSW more entitled to a pay increase.
Public sector workers are the community. During the pandemic, many PSA members continue to go to their workplaces to ensure NSW keeps running during the pandemic. For members in workplaces such as the Ministry of Health, prisons, Youth Justice facilities, national parks, Service NSW branches and schools, working from home was not an option.
Other essential workers continued to serve the state while working from home. While much of the economy shut down, NSW stayed open.
Asking for a 2.5 pay rise is not being greedy, it is ensuring members’ pay packets keep up with the cost of living.
Make no mistake, this is a pay cut: the difference will not be made up in future years. Even members receiving pay rises under existing awards and agreements this year will miss out on pay increases in years to come. For workers planning to retire, this will affect their defined benefits scheme payouts for the rest of their lives.
Not only is the move an affront to the hard work of PSA/CPSU NSW members, it also makes no economic sense. From the Great Depression to the Global Financial Crisis, history has shown austerity just makes fiscal downturns more acute.
The most powerful economic stimulus for the NSW Government is its own workforce. The 2.5 per cent pay rise due to members represents almost a billion dollars. That is $1 billion more money spent in local communities. This could be the difference between small businesses surviving or going bust. Pulling spending money out of an economy will just entrench a recession.
The PSA will be contacting members in the coming days to get their feedback on this short-sighted decision by the State Government.
Our applications for pay increases to awards such as the Crown Employees (Public Sector – Salaries 2020) Award are still with the Industrial Relations Commission.
Your union has also issued a press release alerting the media to our opposition to the pay freeze. You can read the press release HERE. You can see a video presentation on the pay cut from General Secretary Stewart Little HERE.