Illawarra workers who delivered the Minns government its victory earlier this year say they feel "betrayed" by the government's latest move in ongoing pay negotiations with teachers and nurses.
Late last week, the union representing teachers slammed the Minns government's withdrawal of a pay deal which had been the subject of negotiations since the Labor government came to power in March 2023.
Angelina Maranesi, who has taught at Barrack Heights Public School for 30 years, said the current dispute between her union and the Minns government was worse than with the previous Coalition government.
"With the [previous] government, they made it quite clear that they weren't going to support public education, which is why we really rallied hard to get rid of that government, but this is in so many ways so much worse, because [Minns] was saying yes," Ms Maranesi said.
"Betrayal is the only way I can see it."
It's not only teachers who are frustrated with the government they have supported.
Over the weekend, 58 per cent of nurse union branches voted in favour of the NSW government's four per cent pay rise offer over the next 12 months, but Bianca Vergouw, Wollongong branch president of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Federation, said she and her colleagues we're disappointed with the offer.
"We'll accept it for 12 months at this point, but we're certainly not happy about it."
Nurses had initially asked for a 10 per cent pay bump and Ms Vergouw had a mixed response the government's counter offer.
"Everyone was disappointed in the four per cent offer, because that was less than half of what had been asked for," she said. "We are really excited about the commitment to safe staffing ratio."
Secretary of the Nurses and Midwives Federation, Woonona-based Shaye Candish said the feeling within her ranks was similar.
"When I'm talking to members, they're not happy with the four per cent offer," she said.
Ms Candish said that she was more positive about the government's commitment to implementing nurse to patient ratios, after the government and union began working together on staffing levels in April.
In his victory speech on election night in March, Mr Minns vowed to remove the public sector wages cap instituted by the previous government and support the key public sector workers of nurses, teachers and paramedics.
Teachers led some of the largest marches in the lead up to the election, and Illawarra teachers manned booths in the marginal electorates of Heathcote and South Coast in support of Maryanne Stuart and Liza Butler respectively, NSW Teachers Federation organiser Duncan McDonald said.
"Many teachers campaigned against the Perrottet government in the hope that there'd be a brighter future, and of course they're now questioning, what was the point of that?"
In the months since, Minns and his government have had fallings out with unions representing all three professions. Between July 26 and August 2, paramedics refused to work special events and enter billing information and for two days last week paramedics refused non-urgent transports.
In July, the Minns government marked 100 days in office by committing to scrap the legislated wages cap in September, however following a public sector wide four per cent increase, unionists are questioning whether the cap is really gone.
Acting secretary of the South Coast Labour Council Tina Smith said it was unclear whether a cap remained in practice.
"Throwing four per cent out there and saying the cap has been scrapped, has it? Or is it a little bit of fat around the cap at the moment?"
Unions are saying a four per cent wage increase does little to address the rising cost of living, with inflation at six per cent in the June quarter meaning real wages are going backwards.
"We're in a standard of living crisis; rents, electricity and food prices are going up," Ms Smith said. "You would think that anybody would look at sensibly raising wages or scrapping the cap in line with inflation, taking the foot off the lever of the crisis that a lot of people are in."
In addition to negotiations over wage rises, the Education Minister, Prue Car said there needed to be agreements in "productivity improvements" which to many teachers sounded like a throwback to previous disputes with Coalition governments, where pay rises were linked to increases in productivity.
In a profession where staff regularly work more than 60 hours a week, teachers were left scratching their heads about where this additional productivity could come from.
"Instead of classes of 30, they have 40 and 50, because you can't get a casual teacher," Ms Maranesi said. "That is a terrible thing for them to be throwing out, when we're already under the pump and doing way more than we should."
Similarly, Ms Vergouw said while pay was important, her colleagues didn't become nurses to be millionaires, and changes to staff ratios were just as essential.
"There's a glimmer of hope, but how long can you count on that," she said.
Ms Maranesi said while teachers and politicians debated pay, it was the students who were missing out as many of her peers leave teaching and new graduates quit once they join the workforce and confront the unrelenting workload. After over 30 years, Ms Maranesi formally retired last Thursday, with a plan to teach part-time as a casual.
In the days prior to her last day, she received a call from the teacher coordinating casuals at the school where she works.
"She said, 'When do you retire now?' Next Thursday," Ms Maranesi replied.
"'Do you want to work Friday?'"