Written By: - Date published: 8:20 am, July 3rd, 2009 - 90 comments
Categories: bill english, education, health, john key, national/act government, public services, Unions, wages, workers' rights - Tags:
Yesterday in Question Time, Bill English sent a message loud and clear to teachers, police, doctors, nurses, and all other public servants (‘frontline’ or not): under National, you’ll be getting pay-cuts, don’t expect cost of living adjustments, watch as your pay-packet buys less and less.
Hon BILL ENGLISH: The Government has stated a number of times that it would honour those agreements that were entered into in pay rounds before the change of Government. I have seen reports that, for instance, senior doctors received a 4.25 percent pay increase [1.25% after-inflation] on 29 June. Alongside their automatic moves up the scale, this amounts to a total pay rise of $11,000 a year for senior doctors. Nurses received a 4 percent increase [1% after-inflation] in March, alongside automatic progressions. Under his or her contract, the average nurse is receiving a pay increase of around $6,000 a year. In the current climate, most New Zealanders are receiving little or nothing extra. No one should take those pay increases as an indication of settlements in the near future. They are legally binding agreements that the Government will stick to, but we have made it clear that that kind of pay rise is no longer sustainable.
He practically dares doctors, nurses, and teachers to do something about it:
The fact is that turnover rates in the public sector have dropped to historical lows…Nurses and teachers would be regarded by the public as having among the most secure jobs in the economy right now
In other words, ‘why should we pay you more if the supply of your labour is secure?’
National are buying themselves a fight here. Teachers and medical professionals have huge public support, their skills are in international demand, and they are well-organised because they’re well-educated enough to know the union makes them strong. If they can’t even give cost-of-living adjustments, the Nats will face strikes and the flow of professionals to Australia (where they’re actually investing in health and education to help them through the recession, not using the recession as an excuse for running them down).