Nurses are national heroes, but how will they pay the rent?

UNFAIR: Celia Walker, Mimi Ward and Maree Backhouse think a pay freeze for nurses is an insult to their hard work and sacrifice.
UNFAIR: Celia Walker, Mimi Ward and Maree Backhouse think a pay freeze for nurses is an insult to their hard work and sacrifice.

Mental health care nurse Celia Walker is not happy.

She and other nurses and midwives in Goulburn have been run off their feet during the dangerous and stressful coronavirus pandemic, yet a wage freeze for the coming financial year looks likely.

Speaking on behalf of the Goulburn Branch of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association, Ms Walker said that nurses and midwives expect their pay to reflect their hard work and sacrifice.

"Last week nurses were national heroes, this week we're not worth our 2.5 per cent pay rise," she said.

"It's frustrating, as a health worker, that the pollies are sitting in their offices doing paper work and we're putting our bodies on the line.

"Particularly at this time, we go to work and are potentially in contact with a deadly disease.

"I've spoken with my colleagues and we're concerned because we work in a high risk environment, yet we still have to fight each year for our pay rise."

She acknowledged that coronavirus has had a negative impact on the economy and the government's budget, but said she did not feel that withholding the public sector wage rise is the answer.

"The government needs to kickstart the economy, to do this they need people with money to spend," said Ms Walker.

"I live alone with a mortgage and all the related expenses that come attached.

"How can I afford to support myself, let alone contribute to boosting the economy, without the ability to keep par with inflation."

She said that as a mental health nurse, she and her colleagues deal with mental and physical abuse on a regular basis.

"Nurses in general hospitals are currently facing the high possibility of catching a deadly disease just from doing their job," she said.

"Nurses are also regularly overworked and at risk of physical and mental exhaustion - how can the government tell us were not worth more?

"Will the politicians, who probably wouldn't struggle if they didn't get paid for a year, forgo their wage rises?"

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said in the NSW Parliament last Tuesday that no decision had been made on the government's wages policy.

But he refused to repeat earlier support for front-line healthcare workers to be exempt from a public sector pay freeze.

This story Nurses are national heroes, but how will they pay the rent? first appeared on Goulburn Post.