NSW hospital strikes loom amid union pay stoush

The Australian, 3 July 2023

Further strikes across NSW hospitals loom after members of the NSW health workers union flagged that they would reject the Labor state government’s pay rise offer of 4.5 per cent, including superannuation, amid anger over salary packaging.

NSW Treasurer Daniel Mookhey was heckled at a Health Services Union conference on Monday after announcing the government would return around 60 per cent of salary packaging benefits instead of 100 per cent.

The crowd chanted “Pay us more” while Edalina Hondros, a clinical support worker in the suburb of Fairfield in Sydney’s west, said Mr Mookhey did not understand the struggles of the working classes.

“When your families go to hospital, who looks after them? We do,” she said.

“Not the nurses, we do. We make sure everything is done.”

Mr Mookhey said the government would bargain in good faith with unions ahead of the public sector wages cap being scrapped, a key election promise, in ­September.

“That is something this movement should be proud of,” he said.

HSU president Gerard Hayes said the 4 per cent pay hike plus 0.5 per cent superannuation rise would likely be rejected by the membership as he flagged further strikes across NSW hospitals.

“The 4 per cent is not good enough when we’re seeing interest rates going up,” he said.

Mr Hayes had previously pushed for a 6.5 per cent pay rise after a year of inflation running at about 7 per cent amid consecutive interest rate hikes by the Reserve Bank of Australia.

NSW Premier Chris Minns on Monday said that the state government would offer a 4 per cent pay rise to some 400,000 workers and extra pay would be funded through increased productivity instead of costing the budget’s bottom line.

NSW is currently saddled with around $12 billion in debt.