Striking civil service workers rally outside NSW parliament for a pay rise
Thousands of striking public service workers gathered outside the NSW parliament to express their displeasure at the government’s promised 3% pay rise, AAP reports.
Members of the Public Service Association (PSA), ranging from prison officers, park rangers, school support staff, ServiceNSW workers and civilian police employees, are on strike for 24 hours.
Union members marched down Macquarie Street in Sydney on Wednesday morning, but the crowds did not match the size of recent strikes by teachers and nurses.
“We hope for a very good participation”, secretary general of PSA Stewart Little said, adding that he would like to see 30,000 members take to the streets in protest.
The strike comes after PSA last week gave the government an ultimatum to commit to a pay rise.
First Dominique Perrotet announced on Monday that the 2.5% annual cap on public sector wage increases would be raised to 3% next year, with an additional 3.5% the following year, depending on productivity gains.
PSA Senior Vice President Juliet Sizer told members that a fair wage increase “starts at 5.2%,” or 0.1% above inflation.
The government also announced that frontline healthcare staff would receive a $3,000 bonus in recognition of their work during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Few said no one deserved the bonus more than health workers, but that should include PSA members who work in the Department of Health.
“Epidemiologists, contact tracers…stopping the pandemic that is overwhelming our community,” he said.
Teachers, prison officers and emergency service workers are also expected to receive payment, he added.
Unions have called for the wage ceiling to be raised further to at least reflect the rate of inflation, while some want it abolished altogether.
Labor has also been pushing for changes to the bargaining process between unions and the government.
Leader of the Opposition Chris Minn described it as “fundamentally broken”.
Perrottet said the wage hike was fair and responsible within the June 21 budget.
“It’s not just civil servants who are going through a tough time, it’s every single person in NSW after coming through the pandemic,” Perrottet said.