The NSW government has introduced a new two-year policy which sees public sector employees receiving a 3% rise per year, with a further 0.5% increase possible for employees ‘that make a substantial contribution to productivity enhancing reforms’.
The policy comes into effect on 1 July 2022, the first day of the new financial year.
A one-off payment of $3,000 will also be given to NSW Health Service employees which the government says is in recognition of their work during the pandemic. Those included in the payment are paramedics, midwives, cleaners and permanent staff employed by the NSW Health Service.
NSW premier Dominic Perrottet said the investment will allow the government to continue to deliver its services.
“A strong public service is essential to delivering what matters to make daily life better,” Perrottet said.
The public sector wage cap was previously at 2.5%, which Unions NSW had previously criticised, saying it would hurt workers’ take-home pay with inflation at 5%.
The NSW Teachers Federation has criticised the policy, saying it is ‘not good enough’, and it ‘added insult to injury’.
“Teachers are already experiencing a real wage cut with inflation running at 5.1 percent in March 2022. This is despite the Premier’s calls to not have front-line workers’ pay fall behind,” NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos said.
The state government has also said it will limit executive remuneration increases to 2% within the next year.
NSW treasurer Matt Kean said the pay rise will allow the public sector as an employer to be competitive in attracting and retaining talent.
The NSW government has also announced, ahead of its upcoming state budget, $1.76 billion for frontline emergency care, building what the premier called “the largest paramedic workforce in Australia.”
The investment is allocated to the recruitment of 1,858 extra paramedics, 210 ambulance support staff, 52 nurses and eight doctors.
The state premier said the increased staff will increase the capacity of the health system and existing staff.
“Ambulance services across Australia are experiencing unprecedented demand but this funding will ensure NSW is well placed for the challenges ahead,” Perrottet said.
Health systems across the country are dealing with the pressures of a combined flu season and COVID-19 cases, with the NSW government making flu vaccines free for residents for the month of June.
The government said it worked with NSW Ambulance and the Health Services Union to ensure it had the ‘right number’ of paramedics, said NSW health minister Brad Hazzard.
Health Services Union NSW tweeted its support of the news, accrediting it to ‘ceaseless campaigning’.
This is incredible news for the community – and for the HSU paramedics who made it happen by ceaselessly campaigning, lobbying and taking industrial action.
— HSU NSW (@HSUNSW) June 4, 2022
The Australian Paramedic Association NSW said on its Facebook page the new staff was welcomed and a step in the right direction, but flagged there were more improvements to be made.
“1,800 is a step in the right direction, but we need more specialists in regional areas, we need more patient transport officers, and we need to be paid fairly,” the Facebook post states.
As part of the announcement, the government has said the budget will also deliver 30 new stations. The first stations will be built at Warilla, Kincumber, Lisarow, Gateshead, Swansea, Cherrybrook, Raby and Narellan within the year. Twenty-two more are set to follow over the next three years.
Kean added the investment is indicative of the government’s support for frontline staff during the pandemic.
“We are always thankful for the outstanding commitment, compassion and tireless efforts of our ambulance staff but especially throughout the pandemic,” Kean said.