NSW Budget a breakthrough for essential workers

Unions have commended the first Budget in more than a decade to be handed down without a cap restricting the wages of essential workers.

Critically, today’s Budget creates a substantial $3.6 billion fund, dedicated to higher wages for vital workers. 

It also sets aside $3.5 billion for 15 new schools, $3 billion for Western Sydney hospitals, $1.4 billion for regional school upgrades, $572 million for additional health care workers and $438 million for an additional 500 regional paramedics.

Mark Morey, Unions NSW Secretary, said NSW Labor’s first budget laid solid foundations.

“Paying public sector workers enough to attract and retain them is absolutely critical to our state. The morale and goodwill of these workers was absolutely cratered by the Liberals. This Budget is the beginning of the rebuild. 

“Today’s Budget recognises just how critical essential workers are, both by lifting the public sector wage cap and creating a new $3.5 billion fund for decent pay rises for the people who keep our state functioning. 

“This is a very solid foundation to begin stemming the flow of essential workers interstate after 12 years of wage suppression. We won’t fix the essential worker shortage immediately, but we will make a dent in it.”

A previous Unions NSW survey of 2893 workers in the state’s schools, hospitals, prisons, transport network and emergency services outlined the dramatic impact of the Liberal wage cap. 27% of workers had considered or were considering moving and working in the public sector interstate, with 54% of workers that have considered or are considering moving interstate thinking about Queensland. An alarming 62% were considering leaving the public sector in the next five years, rising to 75% in education and 70% in healthcare.

The establishment of a $3.5 billion fund dedicated solely to providing higher wages demonstrates the State’s commitment to ensuring that the public sector remains competitive, attracting and retaining the best talent to serve the people of NSW.

“This $3.5 billion fund is a significant step forward in ensuring that our public sector workers are compensated fairly and competitively. Our teachers, health care workers, firefighters, police and so many others are the backbone of our state. Their pay must reflect their skills, experience, and dedication.”