‘Unfair’ public sector pay-freeze challenged

Auckland Action Against Poverty stands in solidarity with all public sector workers affected by the Government’s announced pay freeze.

On Wednesday the Government announced that workers earning between $60,000 and $100,000 would only receive a pay rise if there is “serious recruitment pressure in their area”, and that workers earning over $100,000 would receive no pay rises.

When the effects of inflation are taken into account, many people will experience the pay freeze as a real-terms pay cut.

“We see in our work every day the struggles people are going through on inadequate incomes as rents rise and bills increase. This freeze is unjust and demoralising for nurses, teachers, and other workers who have done so much to get us through the pandemic,” says Auckland Action Against Poverty coordinator Brooke Pao Stanley

“People in and out of work are united in wanting everyone getting enough income to lead thriving lives in loving, connected communities – and the Government is failing all of us.

“PSA National Secretary Kerry Davies has described the pay freeze as “unfair” and “bad economics” – an “unacceptable” move that continues to “undervalue public servants.

“The Government must urgently reverse this step, allowing pay rises to happen in the normal way as part of securing liveable incomes for all.”

The New Zealand Nurses Organization (NZNO) says health care workers across New Zealand are disappointed following the government’s pay freeze announcement.

Nurses, midwives, healthcare assistants and kaimahi hauora employed by District Health Boards (DHB) could all be affected by the announcement.

NZNO industrial services manager Glenda Alexander is seriously concerned about the impact of the policy on NZNO’s work to resolve gender pay issues within nursing and midwifery.

“This announcement could set back our efforts to resolve the longstanding undervaluation of our members’ work, especially regarding pay rates for nurses.

“Three years effectively freezing our payrates would put us backward in closing the gender pay gap between the female-dominated nursing occupation and male-dominated occupations, many of which are in the private sector.”

On top of pay equity concerns, NZNO industrial advisor David Wait says that the announcement could have significant impacts on the current negotiations as well as staff retention.

“NZNO is in negotiations with DHBs for a new Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA) which affects over 30,000 workers. Our members in DHBs are feeling let down and anxious following the announcement. They’re feeling that this is a huge disrespect given all they have done for the country during the pandemic.

“We keep hearing from members that this is just the thing to push them to move overseas,” he said.

“All people in Aotearoa New Zealand should be concerned at the possible impact of the guidance on our ability to attract and retain health workers in our public hospitals and DHB facilities that are already understaffed”.