NSW to fund 2,000 more paramedics but wages clash looms

  • Published June 5, 2022
  • Industries

The Guardian, 5 June 2022

Government also budgets for 30 more ambulance stations in $1.76bn package union hails as historic win

Nearly 2,000 paramedics will join the New South Wales workforce as the state government commits to a $1.76bn funding boost.

The Health Services Union welcomed the announcement following industrial action by NSW paramedics this year.

The union’s secretary, Gerard Hayes, said it was a historic win for paramedics, who had been “consistently under-resourced”.

“For too long, paramedics have worked themselves to the bone to protect the community,” he said.

“This announcement will allow them to deliver even better care to the community while also protecting their own health and wellbeing.”

The NSW government will fund 1,858 new paramedics and 30 more ambulance stations across the state in the coming budget.

It will cost $1.76bn over four years, including cash for 210 ambulance support staff, 52 nurses and eight doctors.

But Hayes said paramedics still needed a wages increase to keep up with the cost of living.

Unions NSW warned on Sunday that public sector workers could be out of pocket by thousands of dollars under the current 2.5% wage rise cap, given the rising inflation rate.

Paramedics’ take-home pay would fall by more than $5,000 over the next three years if their wages didn’t rise to keep up with the cost of living, according to a report from Griffith University business school’s Prof David Peetz.

The premier, Dominic Perrottet, called Sunday’s announcement a “generational investment” and said there would be a “fair and reasonable” wages announcement closer to state budget day on 21 June.

“We understand the concerns of rising inflation across the country,” he said.

“Wages is one aspect ... but investing in staff is also crucially important, so we’ll balance those competing interests.”

Peetz’s report warned that firefighters, police, nurses and teachers would lose between $5,000 and $6,500 over the same period if wages were not increased by more.

Hayes said paramedics’ wages didn’t reflect the reality of their work.

“Without a serious pay rise it will be hard to recruit and retain the extra paramedics announced today,” he said. “We will continue to press for fair pay.”