Nurses raise their voice over pay freeze

Local nurses joined together down the main street of Young on Wednesday to protest against the NSW Government's announcement last month they would be facing a pay freeze.

Complying with social distancing rules the group took time outside of their working hours in the hope their voices would be heard.

The group met outside Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke's Young Office to rally against the NSW Government's 'cruel' public sector wage freeze.

The rally was organised by the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association (NSWNMA) Young branch who joined with branches across the state, outraged the NSW Government is pursuing a wage freeze in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission.

According to the group members are insulted the government is ignoring their daily sacrifices to keep public hospitals running and all patients safe.

"We're urging our local member, Steph Cooke, to remember the sacrifices nurses and midwives have made to keep our community safe and help us to support our local businesses as we all recover from the pandemic's economic shock," NSWNMA Young branch president Leanne Reeves said.

Mrs Reeves said she understands supporting and working together with the community, but between the drought and pandemic she feels nurses are expected to work harder for less.

"As a local nurse working through the drought and the pandemic I know how important it is to support our community," Mrs Reeve said. "We've been caring for and supporting our local community, now we're asking for the communities support to help stop the wage freeze."

Last month NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced there would be a wage freeze in the public sector meaning over 400,000 public sector employees would miss out on their their annual 2.5 percent payrise for 12 months. The move was blocked by the NSW Upper House leaving the State Government to take the matter to the Industrial Relations Commission.

"Honouring the 2.5 percent increase means we can support our community to recover by continuing to spend our wages in local shops and businesses," Mrs Reeves said.

According to NSWNMA Young branch secretary Alycia Dobbie nurses and midwives have sacrificed a lot through the pandemic and do not deserve to be hindered financially.

"It is hard to believe the NSW Government wants us to do even more for less," Ms Dobbie said.

"The Government is still trying to freeze wages for all public sector workers, including nurses and midwives. It's cruel and it hurts. We have sacrificed so much during COVID-19 and should not be left out of pocket."

Ms Cooke said: "I respect the hard work of all our nurses, midwives and other public sector workers who continue to serve our communities," Ms Cooke said.

"The NSW Treasurer has said the State's unemployment rate will rise to almost 8 per cent as a result of COVID-19.

"The impact of this pandemic has been felt by many communities in the Cootamundra electorate; people have lost income, jobs, their mental health has suffered and their way of life has changed.

"This is a 12 month pause on a pay rise for all public service jobs, which also includes Members of Parliament."