‘A slap in the face’: Teachers, nurses react to wage freeze for NSW public servants


The Berejiklian government’s proposal to save $3 billion by freezing public sector wages has been labelled a “slap in the face” by nurses and teachers who worked on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic.

The proposal, announced last week by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, will put a 12-month pause on the 2.5 percent pay rise that 400,000 public sector workers in NSW are entitled to.

President of the NSW Teachers Federation, Angelo Gavrielatos, was one of the first to respond to this news and said the move would be resisted by the Federation’s members.

“This is hardly the recognition teachers and principals deserve after the extraordinary efforts they have made to maintain educational continuity for our students during these unprecedented times,” Mr Gavrielatos told The Greek Herald

Watch The Greek Herald’s exclusive interview with Angelo Gavrielatos about the work of teachers during the pandemic.

“If this pay cut is allowed to proceed, it would result in the loss of thousands of dollars in salary for teachers in the short term and tens of thousands in the longer term through the loss of superannuation savings.”

Similarly, Greek Australian nurse, Helen Zahos, said healthcare workers have sacrificed enough already and the pay cut is “disappointing.”

“We were there in the thick of the pandemic, we faced fears and went to work while others stayed at home to social distance. We feared exposing our family to COVID-19 and some nurses haven’t seen family up close for two months or more,”Ms Zahos said to The Greek Herald.

“During this pandemic, nurses were hailed as heroes and we are rewarding them with a pay freeze.  This is unacceptable. Nurses will not be able to support the local economy with a pay freeze. It is our essential workforce that is losing out here.”

Greek Australian nurse, Helen Zahos, said healthcare workers have sacrificed enough already and the pay cut is “disappointing.”

Today, in response to this criticism, NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said he wants to provide a one-off payment of $1000 in lieu of a salary increase for nurses, police, paramedics, teachers and train crews.

Mr Gavrielatos said this new “deal” was “unacceptable” as well.

“This offer adds insult to injury. The proposed pay cut is economically counter-productive,” Mr Gavrielatos said.

The Treasurer is now locked in discussion with unions in an attempt to come to a resolution before Parliament sits this week.

READ MORE: The Greek Australian essential workers helping the country amid COVID-19 crisis.

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