NSW healthcare workers: $3,000 thank you payment for workers during COVID pandemic, public sector wage hike

New South Wales healthcare workers will receive a $3,000 “appreciation” payment for their work during the pandemic and the civil service salary cap will increase, the state government has announced.

Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet announced the payment to Liverpool Hospital on Monday.

“We will be making a payment of $3,000 in appreciation to all of our health workers, for the sacrifices they have made over the past two years,” he said.

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He said the payment would also recognize the strain flu season has put on health workers.

“A strong public service is essential to deliver what matters to improve everyday life,” Perrottet said.

“Our sound economic management allows us to invest in our staff through higher salaries and more frontline workers and to continue to deliver the best services in the country and a brighter economic future for the people of NSW.”

New South Wales nurses hold placards during a nurses’ strike in Sydney. Credit: BIANCA DE MARCHI/AAPIMAGE

Employee Relations Minister Damien Tudehope said the one-off payment was recognition of a workforce that has strengthened “beyond expectations”.

“Healthcare personnel have made extraordinary efforts during the pandemic and have earned the admiration and gratitude of the entire state,” Tudehope said.

The payment covers paramedics, midwives, cleaners and other permanent staff employed by the NSW Health Service.

The civil service salary cap will also be increased to 3% this fiscal year, before rising to 3.5% next year.

The NSW Health Services Union welcomed the bonus but said it wanted the salary cap removed.

“Over the past three years, healthcare and hospital workers have been hit by the nasty combination of the pandemic and understaffing,” HSU Secretary Gerard Hayes said.

“Cleaners, paramedics, wardens, security and therapists have worked to the limit to keep NSW safe.

“This payment acknowledges the reality of what our members have gone through. For people on low incomes, like cleaners and security, it’s a massive boost that offsets the 2020 wage freeze. This will allow many to put in place a financial buffer against the rising cost of living .

“HSU will, however, continue to press for the public sector salary cap to be abolished.

“New South Wales wage policy prevents meaningful wage negotiations. We need a system that allows workers to negotiate wages based on cost of living and productivity, not one based on the whim of politicians.

Dominique Perrotet
Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet announced the payment to Liverpool Hospital on Monday. Credit: AAP

The measure was one of several financial commitments the state government made on Monday regarding the health sector.

Perrottet also announced that more than 10,000 employees, including doctors and nurses, would be recruited over four years as part of a $4.5 billion campaign.

“Everyone in New South Wales is indebted to our health workers for their selfless efforts throughout the pandemic, remembering for a long time that there was no vaccine and they were risking their lives every day to care for patients,” he said.

“This record investment will help us care for healthcare workers across the state, giving them the respite and support they need.

“It will also increase the number of staff in hospitals to deliver quality healthcare closer to home, ensuring better health outcomes and a brighter future for families in NSW.”

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Elaine R. Knight