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PSA: Many public servants still underpaid

27 February 2006

Union reminds Minister of Finance that many public servants still underpaid

The Public Service Association is today reminding Minister of Finance, Michael Cullen that many public servants are still underpaid and that continued investment by government is required if they are to meet their election commitment to re-build the public service.

This is in response to comments by the Minister to business leaders that state sector Chief Executives need to carefully manage labour costs.

“Despite significant re-investment by this government in the state sector, there are still many in the public service who are significantly underpaid, especially when compared with those in the private sector,” said Brenda Pilott, National Secretary of the PSA.

“If New Zealand is going to become the high-wage/high skill economy that the government says it wants, it must lead the way in ensuring that workers in the public service are paid what they are worth.”

The PSA is the largest state sector union representing over 52,000 public service workers in central and local government, the health sector and in community services.

The PSA launched a bargaining strategy last year which called for significant increases in pay and has since briefed the Minister about the high expectations among our members for significant pay increases.

“While there have been necessary wage rises for workers in health and education, those working in the public service have high expectations of wage increases to recognise their important role in delivering quality public services.”

The PSA will be negotiating several collective agreements in the public service this year where members are expecting significant pay increases including the Department of Conservation, the Inland Revenue Department and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

“We will be continuing to advocate for significant pay increases for our members to ensure their salaries keep pace with cost of living increases and to ensure that departments can continue to attract and retain workers in the public service.”

The Minister also noted that the government expected a pay-off from the significant investments the government has made in the state sector in recent years.

“We have been leading calls for a joint union and government focus on public service productivity. We have been disappointed at the slow response from the public service so are pleased that the Minster is giving them a wake-up call about the importance of this work,” said Brenda Pilott.


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