The NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association (NSWNMA) has slammed the Berejiklian government's decision to force frontline workers to pay for parking at hospitals.
The NSW government implemented a paid parking reprieve at the state's public hospitals during the COVID crisis, but from April, NSW Health will resume charging nurses, midwives and other hospital staff up to $23.60 a week to park at their workplaces.
The government says free car parking for frontline health staff was only a temporary measure.
Brett Holmes, General Secretary of the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association (NSWNMA) said the government had been quick to forget the 'gold standard' efforts of its own health workforce.
"As nurses and midwives roll up their sleeves for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, many are angry the NSW Government has been quick to claw back the paid parking reprieve at the state's public hospitals," Mr Holmes said.
"Despite being on the COVID-19 frontline for twelve challenging months, and the vaccine rollout in its infancy, the government wants to slug nurses, midwives and all other health staff with paid parking at public hospitals.
"These women and men have barely received a 0.3 per cent increase in their pay and already the government wants them to open their wallets again. It's a disgrace.
"For some, that's more than $1,200 a year in parking fees that they'll need to find within their family budgets."
Member for Kogarah Chris Minns said the move was a slap in the face' to the heroes of the pandemic.
"This is no way to treat the heroes of the pandemic," he said.
"Nurses, hospital cleaners and health care professionals worked tirelessly during the pandemic at risk to their own safety. Slugging them with this fee is a real slap in the face.
"Even with the economy recovering, the government is committed to refusing any real pay increase for our health heroes. Is it any wonder they're furious?"
A NSW Health spokesperson said hospital car parks are now experiencing capacity issues due to the increased demand for spaces and it was appropriate that free parking for staff cease in April.
"Free car parking was introduced temporarily in April 2020 to ease the burden on hospital staff during a very challenging time," the spokesperson said.
"As hospital activity continues to increase in NSW, it is critical patients, families and visitors have easy access to health services.
"NSW Health employs around 140,000 people and its hospital car parks were not constructed to provide free parking for all staff."
Shadow health spokesperson Ryan Park said health workers would be thousands of dollars worse off from April.
"This is a tax on health workers. It is a tax they will pay for every hour that they do their jobs," he said.
"The Berejiklian Government have already refused to honour their commitments on wage increases. Now, these workers are thousands of dollars worse off. It's a disgrace."
Mark Speakman was approached for comment and referred the Leader to the NSW Health statement.
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