More hospital strikes on table as NSW Treasurer heckled during health speech

The Daily Telegraph, 3 July 2023

More industrial action could be on the way for hospital workers and paramedics as NSW Treasurer is heckled, and union boss flags it’s unlikely the offer of a four per cent pay rise will fly.

Treasurer Daniel Mookhey faced backlash and heckling after announcing to Health Services Union members the government would return no less than 60 per cent of their salary packaging benefits from July this year.

HSU boss Gerard Hayes said the 60 per cent return was not good enough. He also flagged it was unlikely the union would accept the government’s offer of a four per cent pay rise.

“We have got a view that four per cent is not good enough when we’re seeing interest rates going up,” Mr Hayes said.

The union boss warned of future industrial action to come, saying he would be very surprised after the anger during the Treasurer’s speech, if the membership did not vote for further strikes. The state delegates from the union will vote whether to accept the government’s proposals on Monday afternoon.

During the Treasurer’s address one member called out, “why don’t you pay us what we deserve?”. He faced questions from angry members arguing the pay increase didn’t even cover the rising cost of inflation.

Other members were angry about the amount of salary packaging benefits returned to them, arguing it should be 100 per cent.

“We have a lot of work to do to actually get to the bottom of where exactly is all this money being taken from,” Mr Mookhey said.

“The money is coming from us,” multiple members yelled.

The HSU is one of NSW’s largest unions and includes hospital cleaners, paramedics administration staff and pathology employees. Members have been fighting for the end of the 50% salary packaging deduction that can be taken from health workers’ tax savings.

Mr Mookhey said the government was still committed to return 100 per cent salary packaging to health workers but declined to say when this might happen.