Riverina paramedics refused all but life-threatening call outs on Thursday as part of a statewide strike calling for increased wages.
Health Services Union NSW secretary Gerard Hayes said the purpose of the strike was to get fair compensation for the work of paramedics, but call-outs for serious conditions would not be affected.
"NSW paramedics are at breaking point," he said.
"They're not trying to get rich.
"They just want a fair pay rise that recognises the cost of living and the intensity of their work."
IN OTHER NEWS:
The union said last year paramedics were awarded a 0.3 per cent pay rise and this year the state government had proposed a 1.5 per cent increase, which is still less than inflation.
Mr Hayes said coronavirus has posed a threat to the health and safety of paramedics and they deserved a higher wage.
"Our paramedics were required to transport COVID-positive patients, without adequate protective equipment," he said.
"They were exposed to a wild and deadly disease, yet they continued to serve the people of NSW and protect their health.
"To offer paramedics a pay cut is humiliating and insulting."
Mr Hayes said NSW paramedics were the worst paid in the country.
"[They] personally carry the cost of their professional registration and education," he said.
"This pay cut will set them further behind."
The union gave more than a week's notice that paramedics would be undertaking strike action, which the union said was to avoid impacting life-threatening emergencies.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet met with union leaders on Wednesday but they were unable to resolve the dispute.
"He simply needs to provide paramedics a fair day's pay for a fair day's work," Mr Hayes said.
The Albury Ambulance station and the Union's Riverina representative were contacted for comment.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: