Bega nurses are angry the state government is continuing with the move to deny their regular pay rise, and new research suggests the wage freeze would have a broad economic impact on communities.
Earlier this year the NSW government proposed a wage freeze for public sector workers, despite the conditions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, which would block nurses receiving their regular pay rise of 2.5 per cent.
Secretary of South East Regional Hospital's branch of the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association (NSWNMA) Diane Lang said some nurses operate in high-risk areas due to the coronavirus and "get the hand clap, but don't get the pay rise".
"They feel very insulted. The government expects us to step up and do the extra work, but don't want to pay us accordingly," she said.
Last month a survey of 2700 NSWNMA members conducted by YouGov found 77 per cent felt like they were underpaid.
Also, it found if nurses and midwives in rural NSW, including Eden-Monaro, were hit with a wage freeze it would impact economically on their communities as they would curb monthly expenses by an average of about $310 per nurse.
These expenses were in sectors like dining out, take-away, household or personal shopping and recreational activities.
"This data reinforces what economists have been saying about a wage freeze," NSWNMA general secretary Brett Holmes said.
"People will slash their spending, because the impact of a real wage cut indicates far worse times are ahead.
"This is the opposite of what we need to get the NSW economy going again and the opposite of how we should be supporting sectors, like retail and hospitality, to get back on their feet again."
Ms Lang said due to the COVID-19 crisis's impact on jobs losses around the country many nurses had become the primary income earner for their families so the extra 2.5 per cent was that much more essential at this time.
She said she has emailed or sent letters to Bega MP Andrew Constance four times since January requesting a meeting between him and local nurses over the issue, and on Friday finally received a letter back saying he was unable to meet due to coronavirus health restrictions, but would do so in the future.
Mr Holmes said the wage freeze matter was currently before the Industrial Relations Commission and while he was hoping hearings would conclude at the end of the month they could continue past then and there was no announcement of when a decision would be released.
When approached for comment Mr Constance said this was a matter before the IRC and it would be inappropriate to comment at this time.
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