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While NSW public sector nurses and midwives have accepted a 4 per cent wage increase, a union says many members were left disappointed by the offer.

On Monday night, 58 per cent of branches from the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) narrowly agreed to the pay boost, but the union’s assistant general secretary Michael Whaites said it was more a reflection of cost-of-living pressures.

“This offer fell short of our 2023 award claim and, for many, accepting the one-year offer was a reflection that they will take the 4 per cent now, but more is needed,” he said.

“The vote on this pay offer has been close, and it reflects the economic and political environment we find ourselves in.”

The offer will be backdated to July 1 and also includes an additional 0.5 per cent superannuation increase.

Mr Whaites said members were still angry at the former Coalition government’s wage policies that froze salaries during the Covid pandemic.

“We know that even among the members who voted yes, there is anger at the government over the 4 per cent offer,” he said.

“Our members know that what is needed to reform the workforce is a rate of pay that is equal to, or if not better than, what the Queensland and Victorian nurses get.”

NSW Health Minister Ryan Park welcomed the agreement and said it reaffirmed the government’s commitment to frontline health workers.

“We are committed to supporting our essential frontline workers and we’re working hard to recruit, retain and support our workforce,” he said.

Industrial Relations Minister Sophie Cotsis said she hoped the pay increase would improve “recruitment and retention crisis in essential services”.

“The Liberal-Nationals wages cap eroded trust between essential workers and government, suppressed wages and led to the staffing crisis,” she said.

Part of the agreement includes a commitment from the government to work with the NSWNMA to implement safe staffing ratios, beginning with one nurse for every three patients in emergency departments.

Mr Whaites said discussions were still ongoing, with an agreement on ratios scheduled to be implemented into the award around October.

However, he added that the NSWNMA would be “watching closely” and would “seek reassurances” from the NSW government after talks with the NSW Teachers Federation went awry.

“We will make sure (that the government) will commit to finding more funding that will see the implementation of their commitment to the people of NSW in full,” Mr Whaites said.

On Thursday, NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos accused the government of treachery over claims it backtracked on a four-year deal that had previously been agreed to.

Education Minister Prue Car said negotiations were ongoing.

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By Rahul

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