Plans to freeze the wages of nurses, teachers and other public sector workers has been met with a chilly reception, with Wagga's frontline workers expressing outrage over the state government's decision.
One of them is Sylvia Moon, who is a clinical nurse and the Wagga secretary of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association.
Ms Moon said the decision was a "slap in the face" for her fellow healthcare workers at Wagga Base Hospital, many of whom had been working extra shifts to help curb the coronavirus threat.
"We're working through the pandemic to try and look after the people of NSW, so I think it's a bit of a kick in the guts for nurses and other public sector workers," Ms Moon said.
"We're on the front line of this pandemic, so why does it have to be us?"
Adding insult to injury, Ms Moon said, were the generous pay rises given to some of the department heads, such as NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller whose salary increased by almost $87,000.
Meanwhile, across the Riverina 380 ordinary police officers will have their wages frozen, as well as 282 transport workers, 2946 healthcare workers and 1660 teachers.
NSW Teachers Federation country organiser John Pratt said teachers had been expecting a "thank you" from the government for their efforts during the pandemic, and had not expected a wage freeze.
"Teachers were expecting some reprieve, some relief, perhaps a reward, but what teachers have received instead is a kick in the guts," Mr Pratt said.
"The contempt that is shown for the work that teachers do on behalf of the community is really in evidence here."
Mr Pratt said regional schools were feeling the brunt of the economic impacts, with many teachers still recovering from the bushfires.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the freeze was necessary in light of the coronavirus pandemic and the skyrocketing levels of government debt.
"Whilst we are recovering from the health consequences of the pandemic we have yet to come to terms with the economic shock. Job security is essential on our path to recovery," Ms Berejiklian said.
"The only way NSW will come out of this crisis in a strong position is if we all make sacrifices, and that's what we're asking our own workforce to do because we are all in this together."
The move will affect a sizeable chunk of the Riverina's workforce, with over 9 per cent of employees currently being employed in the public sector.
The proposal will affect around 408,000 across NSW, culminating in approximately $3 billion worth of frozen wage increases.