A pay freeze for NSW’s public sector workers has been labelled “the least-worst option” by the state’s premier as the government works to combat the economic effects of COVID-19.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian last week announced a freeze on pay rises for MPs which was extended on Wednesday to include the entire NSW public sector, comprising almost 410,000 workers.
“It’s the least-worst option, let me assure you,” the premier said.
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet emphasised the $3 billion save from the free would be reinvested in public projects.
“This is not about savings. This is about stimulus, creating jobs right across our state. We want every single dollar to count,” Mr Perrottet said.
Unions NSW secretary Mark Morey said the announcement is an act of “economic vandalism” at a time when frontline workers are risking their lives.
“We want to see the economy stimulated and the public sector is one of those areas where that stimulation can occur,” Mr Morey said.
Almost 3100 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in NSW with some 465,000 tests carried out across the state.
One person is in intensive care and the state’s death toll remains at 50.
Ms Berejiklian said school closures will be the “new normal” after two schools in Sydney’s eastern suburbs were closed this week following positive cases among students.
She said case numbers across the state are very low and denied jumping the gun in returning to classrooms so quickly.
“It was time to go back to school. Unfortunately this is the new normal during the pandemic. It will happen again,” she told the Nine Network on Wednesday.