HSU members agree to $3500 wages boost, maintain industrial action over salary packaging stoush

News.com.au, 28th July 2023

After a months-long stand off with the NSW government, a powerful union has minted a wage rise offer, however the threat of industrial action isn’t over yet.

Members of a major health workers union have agreed to the NSW government’s wage increase offer, however, the threat of industrial action still remains.
On Friday, 54 per cent of members of the Health Services Union (HSU) agreed to a one-year flat salary increase of $3500, plus a 0.5 per cent bump to superannuation payments, and immediate action on award reform.

While the wage increase is less significant for higher paid members, like psychologists and radiographers, the $3500 boost equates to about 8.5 per cent for hospital cleaners who earn between $50,000 to $55,000.

HSU NSW secretary Gerard Hayes said the financial benefit would deliver an “immediate, life altering wage rise for workers on modest wages”.

“For people on higher classifications such as allied health, it unlocks thousands in salary packaging benefits and promises much more in the future through award reform and work value cases,” he said.

“Solidarity and a strong sense of humanity underpin this agreement. It has been won through a spirited and robust campaign.”

However, members still voted to continue industrial action from Monday, over an unmet election promise to give health care workers, including cleaners, security officers and allied health professionals, 100 per cent of salary packaging benefits.

The current agreement merely premises a slight increase from 50 to 60 per cent, with benefits backdated to July 1, 2023.

Mr Hayes said while improvements had been made, the policy was a “decades-old injustice”.

“Our membership has also endorsed an ongoing industrial campaign to start Monday to pursue 100 per cent salary packaging,” he said.

Health Minister Ryan Park said the government would continue to work with the HSU over increasing salary packaging benefits.

“I welcome the decision by HSU members to accept the NSW government’s wage offer,” he said.

“The NSW government is committed to working with the union to reach an agreement on other workforce matters.”

The Public Services Union is currently the only workers’ body who have accepted the government’s 4.5 per cent wage boost, which is inclusive of a 0.5 per cent increase to superannuation.

On Monday, the NSW Australian Paramedics Association (APA) commenced industrial action over wage negotiations, with union secretary Alan O’Riordan lashing the wages boost as “insultingly low”.

Until 6.30am August 2, thousands of paramedics across NSW will not electronically record patient billing details, or KPIs, and refuse to attend special events on duty if it would result in their stations hitting minimum staffing levels.

Additional 24-hour action will also occur from the start of the first shift on July 31 to August 1 in which APA paramedics will refuse to respond to non-emergency patient transfer jobs, which will instead be completed by patient transport officers and private providers.