As public sector unions prepare to fight the state government's proposed wage freeze in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission, new data shows nurses and midwives are grappling with a bleak outlook.
According to a YouGov* survey of nurses and midwives, a staggering 83 per cent of respondents said they were already stressed by day to day expenses and over three quarters (77 per cent) felt underpaid.
If hit with a wage freeze, results show nurses and midwives would curb monthly expenses by an average of $350, highlighting the broader economic impact on NSW communities. Meanwhile, 80 per cent of respondents indicated spending would drop significantly on eating out, gym membership and shopping.
Alarmingly, over half (56 per cent) of respondents indicated their household had already suffered employment impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association (NSWNMA) General Secretary, Brett Holmes, said the evidence was clear that a wage freeze is fundamentally bad public policy and would lead to stagnant growth across the NSW economy, rather than assist its recovery.
"This data reinforces what economists have been saying about a wage freeze. People will slash their spending, because the impact of a real wage cut indicates far worse times are ahead," said Mr Holmes.
"There's a flurry of people getting back out into the community and hitting the shops right now, but if this wage freeze goes ahead, and if private sector employers follow the government to also impose wage cuts, then we will see a dramatic shift.
"This is the opposite of what we need to get the NSW economy going again and the opposite of how we should be supporting sectors, like retail and hospitality, to get back on their feet again.
"The government says it's focused on our post-pandemic recovery. It should invest in public sector workers' wages and give them the confidence to spend in local shops and support businesses."