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Members of the Public Service Association (PSA) attended a planned strike in Grafton on June 8 to voice their frustration after the NSW Premier announced a pay increase of three percent, significantly lower than the Australian inflation rate of 5.1 percent. Image: Ross Pritchard

Protest over NSW Government “slap in the face”

Emma Pritchard

 

A vocal crowd of close to 100 members of the Public Service Association (PSA) gathered in Grafton on June 8 to voice their anger and frustration at the NSW Government.

Cries of “three percent won’t pay the rent”, and “the PSA is here to stay, give us a rise Mr Perrottet” rose high into the air along with placards, flags and banners, as corrective services personnel, teachers and school support staff, community services employees, and youth justice workers took action as part of a planned state-wide strike after NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet revealed the upcoming budget will include a pay increase of up to three percent for all public service employees this year.

The increase is substantially less than the Australian inflation rate of 5.1 percent, with many calling the promised increase a “pay cut”, describing it as a slap in the face to loyal and hard-working public service employees who are already “overworked and underpaid.”

PSA Regional Organiser for the North Coast Region Rebecca Reilly said people came from left, right, and centre to attend the event last week, adding a majority of participants were Clarence Valley residents.

Ms Reilly said the strike was orchestrated to send a clear message to the NSW Government. “We want them to support the regions and honour our public service workers by supporting them,” she said.

“We want the NSW Government to support our community by supporting our members who are part of our community.

“The workload for public service workers is unimaginable.

“Everyone has and everyone is continuing to work so hard.

“We want a pay rise that accurately reflects the work and contributions made by public service workers.”

Ms Reilly said the promised increase of three percent, and a potential 3.5 percent increase the following financial year, is essentially a pay cut for many employees as their workloads grow and the cost of living continues to rise.

Describing the promised pay increase of three percent as a slap in the face for regions and communities who have previously been affected by bushfires, floods, a mouse plague, and a pandemic, Ms Reilly said the NSW Government is “basically cutting wages.”

“What we want is a pay rise which reflects the current Australian inflation rate, and we want to be valued for the work we do,” she said.

“You only have to look at interest rates and petrol prices as examples to see why a promised three percent increase is a step backwards.”

PSA General Secretary Stewart Little said the Premier needs to “go back to the drawing board” and return with a fair offer for the men and women who have been “busting a gut throughout the pandemic to keep this state operational.”

“NSW is creating plenty of wealth, but it’s not getting to the real people who do the real work for this community, and Premier Perrottet needs to make that happen,” he declared.

Ms Reilly confirmed PSA members will participate in further strikes across the state unless the NSW Government responds to their ultimatum of a pay increase which reflects the Australian inflation rate.

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