This November 18, an HSU delegation including Paramedics, HSU Secretary Gerard Hayes, Assistant Secretary Lynne Russell and President Mark Sterrey met with Premier Dominic Perrottet and Health Minister Brad Hazzard at NSW Parliament to raise important issues on behalf of members.
The initial meeting took place in early June this year; thanks to the Delta variant, the follow up meeting was sadly deferred. There was much to talk about.
HSU representatives wasted no time, with strong discussion around pay and salaries taking the spotlight.
Ambulance Professional Pay
Coming out of the Delta era, it’s essential that we focus on ensuring wages reflect the skills, training, and expanding scope of practice that our members undergo for their work. We can no longer accept pay that is based on work performed decades ago. Modern paramedics need modern, professional wages.
Going into the meeting, the HSU made it clear to the Premier that a robust roadmap, working group, or taskforce dedicated to the establishment of better wages for paramedics was needed. It’s now time for real clarity around the path to professional pay.
After being presented with data that demonstrated that NSW paramedics are in fact the lowest paid in Australia regardless of penalty rates, the government agreed to a collaborative process for the establishment of better wages for paramedics.
The proposed collaboration would likely take the form of a ‘strike force’, comprised of HSU representatives, the Premier, the Treasurer, and the Health Minister - with the HSU providing hard data to make the case for the appropriate path forward.
This move is a positive step towards an ongoing collaborative and transparent relationship to ensure members’ interests are represented in government.
Salary Packaging and Public Health awards
The HSU delegation also raised the issue of Salary Packaging, a longstanding issue affecting members in NSW Health.
Since January 2002, NSW Health employees have been able to salary package items such as home mortgage payments, home rental payments, credit cards and school fees thanks to the Public Benevolent Status (PBI) of the employer. But unlike other states in Australia, the tax savings derived from employee salary packaging items pre-tax are shared 50/50 with the employer. This means that employees in NSW Health are receiving 50% less savings than public health employees in other states. This is simply unfair. These savings belong to health workers – for the Government to skim their share is repellent.
At the meeting with the Premier, the HSU delegation made it clear that we’ll be campaigning on this important issue and we won’t be backing down.
The HSU will continue to raise issues on behalf of members over the next year and will continue to fight for improved working conditions and entitlements for members across health.