Public sector workers in New South Wales will get a pay rise above the long-standing cap of 2.5 per cent, the Prime Minister has announced.
Dominic Perrottet says public sector wages will rise by 3% over the next financial year and up to 3.5% the following year, depending on productivity gains.
This provides for pay increases of up to 6.5 per cent over two years.
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Existing health workers, paramedics, midwives, cleaners and other NSW Health employees will also receive a one-time payment of $3,000 in recognition of their efforts during the pandemic, Mr Perrottet said on Monday.
The pay rise, above the 2.5% cap in place since 2011, comes after industrial action and strikes by teachers, nurses, paramedics and other civil servants in recent months .
Treasurer Matt Kean said the wage increase was fair and sustainable in the current economic climate.
“New South Wales is currently experiencing the lowest unemployment rate on record and maintaining competitive wages is important to attracting and retaining top talent. In the context of a strong and growing economy, this two-year wage increase is an affordable and sensible policy.
Last week the Civil Service Association set a deadline for the government to commit to a 5.4% pay rise or else it vowed there would be a strike on Wednesday.
The union will consider the offer but is waiting to see it in writing, PSA general secretary Stewart Little told AAP on Monday.
Finance Minister Damien Tudehope has called on unions to suspend industrial action.
There will also be a boost to health care personnel, with plans to recruit 10,148 full-time equivalents to hospitals and state health departments over four years, as well as more than 1,800 new paramedics.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the $4.5 billion investment over four years was aimed at relieving pressure on existing staff and ensuring appropriate levels of health staff for infrastructure projects health.
Opposition Leader Chris Minns said on Sunday he was happy there had been a breakthrough between the unions and the government.
“It will certainly solve some of the problems with ambulance wait times,” he said on Sunday.
Labor would still be reviewing the announcement, Mr Minns said, noting the government was behind on its 2019 election promise to recruit 1,500 more police officers by the end of this year.
As well as rising wages, the government must mandate nurse-patient ratios if it is to attract and retain new workers, said NSW Greens health spokeswoman Cate Faehrmann.
“They will struggle to attract qualified healthcare workers to fill these new positions,” she said.
She said the announcement of additional staff has done nothing for current health workers.
However, Health Services Union Secretary Gerard Hayes said the government should be able to fill the new roles and the expanded workforce would bring relief to exhausted staff.
“It’s too little too late… (but) it will go some way to making health fit for purpose,” Mr Hayes told Nine’s Today on Monday.
NSW Ambulance Commissioner Dominic Morgan said some 200 offers were being sent to paramedic graduates, many of whom are already eligible for employment.
“It’s going to be a major injection just to relieve the immediate pressure,” Morgan told ABC radio.