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The Public Service pay freeze

Written By: - Date published: 6:05 am, May 8th, 2021 - 18 comments
Categories: wages, workers' rights - Tags:

This is probably the most mind boggling thing I’ve seen this government do. Why would you freeze wages of mid range public servants during a global pandemic instead of say taxing wealth? As Micky pointed out yesterday, over $200,000 would have made sense, but $60,000?

This is probably my favourite comment so far,

Ouch.

Marko Marcetic’s piece here looks at Labour’s actions in the context of mainstream economics.

The Greens’ response, via their press release yesterday,

Green Party launch petition calling for Labour to reverse public sector wage suppression on our nurses, teachers, DOC workers

The Green Party have launched a petition calling on Labour to reverse its decision to suppress the wages of our nurses, teachers, and DOC workers earning between $60,000 and $100,000.

On Wednesday the Labour Government announced that for the next three years those earning between $60,000 and $100,000 would have their wages suppressed, with only special circumstances for any increase. Those over $100,000 would have their wages frozen, whilst those on under $60,000 will be prioritised for pay increases.

“Our public sector workers helped keep us safe, taught our kids, and tended to our natural spaces all whilst in the middle of a global pandemic”, Green Party Workplace Relations spokesperson Jan Logie said today.

“Those on that middle band deserve our thanks, not suppressed, stagnating wages. Particularly as the cost of living increases.

“We totally support an increase in wages for those under $60,000, but we do not need to rob Peter to pay Paul. We know that the Government’s coffers are in better shape than expected, alternatively we could further tax the rich with a Wealth Tax. Nurses, teachers and other essential workers shouldn’t, and can’t, bear the brunt of this.

“Our conversations with the Union have shown massive hurt and disappointment for this decision.

“Labour have long stood with our public service workers who keep our country ticking over. We are hoping with our petition and pressure from workers that they’ll reverse their decision”.

ENDS

 

 

 

18 comments on “The Public Service pay freeze ”

  1. Stuart Munro 1

    The logic from whoever came up with the idea is hard to fathom. Was it an bout of ideological belching from Treasury? An attempt to chase the chimera of budget surpluses in the midst of a crisis and major social restructure? Either of these two seem pretty ill-judged – the kind of unforced error that might get National off 23%. Eventually.

  2. greywarshark 2

    Setting the base line at $60,000 boggles the mind. Those poor sods who have worked their way up from the living wage level to get a deposit for a house have been shafted by the government. As housing seems to be ring-fenced like the Crown Jewels from being touched by the hands of the common people, it is back to cutting the carpet from under the feet of the aspirational.

    'You shall not get soft and lazy' as you were before we brought in neolib measures to give you boot camp experience, think the cabal that runs the government. We will continue with the measures that afflict the country with a wasting disease as pernicious as Covid19 that unlike that virus, the very comfortable are content to propagate, apparently exponentially.

    What do the simple folk do in Camelot?

  3. Sacha 3

    Taking a slightly longer-term view than Labour's current geniuses seem capable of..

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/opinion-analysis/125043890/why-is-a-labour-government-encouraging-its-employees-to-become-contractors

    Your typical bureaucrat has a very easy way out of this pay freeze and that’s to negotiate with their boss to become a contractor.

    If this most recent move on the pay freeze encourages more of them to become contractors then we’re surely not too far off a time when we’ll effectively have a significant second-tier Government workforce who exists largely off the books.

    It’s a situation which could create all sorts of risks further down the line. Employment rights exist to protect both employees and employers.

    Lays the ground for more privatisation of public services by the next right-wing govt. Thanks a bunch.

    • Incognito 3.1

      They could put a cap/freeze on spending on contractors so that certain ‘mobile’ PS cannot “negotiate with their boss to become a contractor” and walk out the back door one week and back through the front door the following week because the boss has been told (off) by their boss.

      Contracting is generally not good for trust in PS and, by extension, for trust in Government.

  4. Anne 4

    I don't often venture over to the Daily Blog these days but Bomber Bradbury has come up with an interesting take on the topic:

    https://thedailyblog.co.nz/2021/05/08/mediawatch-universal-unionism-vs-100k-gold-plated-public-servants-a-masterclass-in-machiavellian-theory/

    He's inclined to go off the planet but, as a former long-serving Public Servant who has
    seen and experienced the negative side… I have empathy with some of his reckons.

    • Incognito 4.1

      He missed a golden opportunity: to suggest that National and the Green Party form a coalition in 2023 cheeky

      • Anne 4.1.1

        Not while Collins is there but I can see it coming in due course. wink

        Don't think Marama would countenance it though.

        • Sacha 4.1.1.1

          It is Green party members who decide – any sign it's what they want?

        • Sabine 4.1.1.2

          Funny, as that is exactly what will happen in Germany with his years election.

          Here is a good write up about the Co-leader of the Green Party maybe ushering the Greent Party into a coalition with the CDU / CSU in Germany. And while in NZ the Green Party might still exclude the National Party as a future coalition party now, it does not mean that that can't happen in the future. The whole point of MMP is that coalitions are not formed on complicity on all points, but rather on points where working across ailes is actually to hte best of all, despite various differences.

          https://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/green-candidate-and-kingmaker-annalena-baerbock-holds-the-keys-to-germany-s-next-election-a-69889a74-d1bf-4179-a595-853b26113ca3

          Two men against one woman.

          Two 60(ish)-year-olds against a 40-year-old.

          Two lawyers against a political scientist with a focus on international law. Two governing professionals against a parliamentarian with no executive experience. Two representatives from Germany's traditional big-tent parties against the candidate of a party hoping to become the next big-tent party.

          It is astonishing how similar Armin Laschet, the chancellor candidate from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and Olaf Scholz, who is running for the Social Democrats (SPD), really are when you look closely. Particularly when compared with the chancellor candidate from the Green Party: Annalena Baerbock.

          Two against one. Or: Old against new. The question will be whether the old wins out once again. Or whether the time is ripe for something new.

          https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/germany-greens-merkel-elections/2021/03/15/c1073f16-835d-11eb-be22-32d331d87530_story.html

  5. Incognito 5

    Being semantic pedantic, the wording in the GP’s petition is incorrect and misleading. Just saying.

  6. greywarshark 6

    Just thinking. The anniversary of the start of our Labour Party now, was on 7 July 1916. It would be a 'cute' little protest for a group to gather at Parliament each one with a plate (NZ bring a plate) of squares of red icing using cochineal (made from insects) and chanting- 'We have the icing on the cake but no cake. We want cake now.' (As in Queen Marie Louise’s supposed comment – ‘Let them eat cake if they have no bread’. I understand that the French brioche was translated as cake, but brioche bread is a ‘rich’ mixture with eggs, butter and milk..

    And generally create a hullabaloo. All wear aprons, preferably full-length pinnies. The men could wear striped ones. We have to keep up the pressure, time is pressing.

    • Anne 6.1

      When I was a kid the Sunday School I attended put on a little party and my English mother was asked… would I please bring a plate. She thought they must be short of plates so she gave me a plate to bring… with nothing on it.

  7. When I heard the announcement I mused that it was only one mans opinion. Admittedly a man with his hands on the purse strings but then again a man, only one man. The reality of things will play out in Collective Bargaining over the next 3 years and there will be other parties with different opinions coming to the table.

  8. Wage increases given the Red Light by the government

    Rent increases given a Green Light by the same government.

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/2018765674/renters-united-farewell-covid-19-rent-freeze

  9. Michael 9

    Stopping bureaucrats on 6-figure incomes from demanding even more from taxpayers, including the very poorest, is a great idea. The former don't need any more. Those on less than 60K will get more. Those between 60-100K may get more (govt needs to watch the special pleading from this lot). Only people inside the bureaucratic bubble think the freeze is a bad thing. The rest of us are grateful – public servants are bloody heavy to carry around on our backs.

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