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Public service workforce data shows sluggish improvement

The public service workforce data released today by the State Services Commission has confirmed very low pay movement, says the PSA.

"Based on the Labour Cost Index the sluggish wage growth for the year to June 2018 shows overall pay movement in the public service was up just 1.3% compared to a 2.1% increase in pay in the private sector," said PSA national secretaries Glenn Barclay and Kerry Davies.

"Even with increases in average annual and median salary figures the big picture is that the public service has also been the only sector to regularly lag behind basic consumer price index (CPI) movements - with the cumulative increase in pay in the public service over the last 8 years sitting at 10.7% while the CPI rose 11.3%.

"It is no wonder then that PSA members at the Ministry of Justice have been fighting a long battle to reverse that trend given the data today shows the average salary there had sunk from third lowest in the public service to the bottom place at $67,800.

"The difficult bargaining that has extended into industrial action this year at other departments (such as Inland Revenue and the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment) reflects this situation and the feedback from many of our members that pay levels and conditions in the public service had reached rock bottom.

"There are signs of improvement," added Kerry Davies and Glenn Barclay.

"It is encouraging that the new Government moved quickly to institute the Living Wage as a minimum wage across the core public service, and equally encouraging that the cap on core public servant numbers has been relegated to the dustbin of history.

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"For some reason, the previous government could never make the link between the pointless cap on full-time staff with the massive growth in contractors and consultants. We look forward to the number of contractors and consultants reducing next year.

"The figures released today show the early effects of turning the corner on the total headcount of public servants - up 5.4% to 51,358 - and the figure for full-time equivalent employees - up 5.2% to 49,730.

"What we are now seeing is a continued levelling off in the number of fixed-term contracts (holding at 7.5%) and a slow but sure decline in the use of performance payments - down to 20 departments from 22 in 2016-2017.

Kerry Davies: "The PSA notes it is still too early to see the flow-on from this year’s establishment of new Gender Pay Gap Principles other than to say that we still have a long way to go to close the gap, and even further to go to close ethnic pay gaps that have generally shown no improvement. This has to be tackled far more seriously and progress - on the Government’s own agenda - has to be greatly accelerated.

Glenn Barclay: "This is all extremely helpful data and helps to break down false stereotypes about the public service and to demonstrate the true scale and occupational spread that it covers, such as the 252 different occupations within the public service workforce.

"The ethnic diversity of the public service is also changing - especially in Auckland with Pacific public servants at 22.5% and Asian public servants at 21.6%. Pacific and Asian staff have a younger age profile and this is slowly contributing to a growing number of younger public servants".


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