Paramedics ban patient transfers as pay fight heats up

·2-min read
Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS

Paramedics and patient transfer officers will refuse to transport patients discharged from hospitals in joint industrial action as workers demand a pay rise and an end to the wages cap.

Health Services Union NSW secretary Gerard Hayes said the morale of the workforce was crumbling, with many considering moving interstate.

"They're making the decision to leave because they can't afford to live here and they see no wage increase on the horizon," Mr Hayes said in Sydney on Tuesday.

A joint 24-hour ban on transporting discharge patients from hospital to home is set to go ahead from 6am on Thursday, though exclusions will apply for end-of-life patients and those on dialysis.

Mr Hayes said he was mindful the action would leave at least 1000 patients who would have been discharged in a hospital system already under pressure.

"We don't enjoy doing this and we don't want to do this but we're not chumps," he said.

"We are not going to sit back to let the government promise to deliver outcomes for working people and then prioritise issues that aren't."

Labor was swept to power in March on the promise of abolishing the public sector wages cap and increased pay for frontline workers.

Premier Chris Minns said he was confident of the progress made in wage negotiations with unions across NSW but it would take time to sort through.

"I'm not able to detail when and where that will be right now but I remain hopeful that of the 400,000 public sector workers in NSW and their representatives we can get an agreement in relation to wages in particular and the removal of the wages cap," he said on Tuesday.

"We believe that we're in the process of developing an offer to representatives of public sector workers in NSW."

But Mr Hayes said he saw no movement in relation to wages or salary cap changes.

"The reality is there is no process, there is no meaningful discussions," he said.

Mr Hayes said the government had the option to remove the wages cap by changing the ministerial regulation the day after the election.

"It chose not to. And every day since we have wondered when we will see action," he said.

The union leader said without a pay increase and amid skyrocketing rental costs and mortgage interest rates, workers were looking to live elsewhere.

"We can not ignore the cost of living crisis. It is unfolding in real time with devastating consequences."

Mr Hayes said union and health care workers needed four or five months to negotiate an outcome to reform and modernise awards.

Mr Minns acknowledged the clock was ticking as awards expire on July 1.

"Obviously, I'd like there to be agreement yesterday or today, but that's not possible. There's really complicated industrial instruments and we want to make sure we get it right," he said.