Member for Tweed Geoff Provest Lismore Janelle Saffin in backing frontline workers in their protests against a proposed public servant wage freeze. Photo: SCOTT POWICK
Member for Tweed Geoff Provest Lismore Janelle Saffin in backing frontline workers in their protests against a proposed public servant wage freeze. Photo: SCOTT POWICK

Pay freeze ‘is unbelievable timing’ for public servants

MEMBER for Tweed Geoff Provest has joined the opposition including Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin in backing frontline workers in their protests against a proposed public servant wage freeze.

The wages freeze mooted by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is set to affect the state public sector 2.5 per cent annual pay increase coming into effect from July 1 and already secured for tens of thousands of nurses, doctors, teachers and police.

Mr Provest said there had been talk about the wage freeze and he expected it to be up for discussion when parliament resumed on June 2 but he would be standing behind the region's nurses, doctors and first responders.

"The state government has some financial issues but at the end of the day we should be respectful of the people who put their lives on the line for us," he said.

Ms Saffin said she had been contacted by a number of local public sector workers who had asked for her support to object to the pay freeze.

She said she would back a disallowance motion proposed by Labor and the Greens in the NSW upper house if government attempted to impose the wage freeze via regulation.

"The timing is unbelievable," she said. "Senior public servants are getting pay rises. It just seems cruel."

Federal Member for Richmond Justine Elliot said she condemned the unfair plans by the NSW Liberal-National Government to cut the wages of hardworking public sector workers.

"These local workers are the heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic and shouldn't have a pay cut," she said.

"In the Tweed electorate this includes pay cuts to 621 teachers, 620 health workers and 159 police officers.

 "Reasonable wage increases are also a vital stimulus measure. It is time to put dollars in pockets, not take them away. A pay cut to locals is a major blow to our economic recovery and will devastate hundreds of local families.

"Our struggling local small businesses will also suffer if people have less money in their pockets to spend."

A Tweed Hospital Nurses and Midwives Association spokesman said members had still to confirm a planned gathering of 10 people 1.5m apart to protest the pay freeze and raise community awareness.

He said the 2.5 per cent increase could amount to $1000-$2000 for the year.

"The lost income is not money being spent in the local community," he said.

The spokesman said association members praised Mr Provest for his support of frontline staff.

"He just needs to ensure his voice is heard loud and clear," he said.

Articles contributed by Margie Maccoll were supported by the Judith Neilson Institute of Journalism and Ideas.