Wagga nurses say they feel "insulted" by the state government's one-off $1000 payment, which comes in the aftermath of a backlash against a $3 billion public sector wage freeze.
NSW Nurses and Midwives Association Wagga secretary Sylvia Moon dismissed the payment as "hush money", saying it did little to placate the nurses of Wagga.
"It's an insult, really, for frontline workers who are working through this pandemic," Ms Moon said.
"We're only asking for 2.5 per cent - it's not an extravagant amount by any means."
The Australian Paramedics Association NSW has even commenced industrial action against the wage freeze by refusing to bill patients.
However, the $1000 payment is in jeopardy after the NSW upper house reversed the decision on Tuesday night.
The NSW government will now pursue the freeze through the Industrial Relations Commission.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian previously warned the $1000 payment would be off the table if the freeze was blocked in Parliament, as well as the promise of no forced redundancies
Riverina paramedic and APA secretary Gary Wilson, speaking on behalf of the union, said the proposed freeze would "result in a real wage cut for paramedics and other frontline workers".
"I think it demonstrates that the government has lost touch with its employees ... [that] their loyalty lies with big business," he said.
"Instead [the NSW government] wants to give the money to large business for infrastructure projects, mostly in metropolitan areas, the money for which will go to big business and then go overseas or into the pockets of the rich."
Mr Wilson said paramedics in NSW were among the lowest paid in the country and would be left to "never make up the ground" if their wages were frozen in the coming financial year.
He said the billing ban was designed to protect patients but "hit the government in the coffers".
Mr Wilson, who has been a Riverina paramedic for more than 18 years and is based in Gundagai, said a freeze would hamper economic recovery in regional communities.
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"Instead of the money going to public sector workers in the regions, which will then get spent with small businesses and in the local economy ... the government's wage freeze will do nothing but hurt small communities in our area," he said.
Member for Wagga Joe McGirr said he opposed the public sector wage freeze, saying that it was politicians like himself who should really have their wages docked.
"I don't think parliamentarians should be getting a wage increase, I don't think senior executives in the public service should be getting a wage increase, and I don't think there should be freeze for frontline workers," Dr McGirr said.
Dr McGirr described the government's one-off payment as a "clever ploy", with nurses still ending up much poorer in the long term by the power of compound interest.
He also questioned the government's timing of a $3 billion infrastructure spending announcement, which came just days after they announced the $3 billion wage freeze.
"It looks like they're trying to make a point," Dr McGirr said.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the infrastructure spending would create jobs and speed up the economic recovery efforts.
"We are now not only guaranteeing our infrastructure pipeline, we will be looking for opportunities to fast-track projects to provide jobs as early as we can," she said.