The PM and Finance Minister are both trying to say the public wage freeze announced last week is not a freeze:
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Deputy, Grant Robertson, were both forced on the defensive this morning over their public sector wage freeze decision.
They both rejected that the moves to restrain public sector wages was a “freeze”, as there is still some room for movement in pay scales.
Speaking to reporters at the post-Cabinet press conference, Ardern said she had no plans to reverse the Government’s decision.
But she has admitted that she thinks the Government should have put more emphasis on the fact that public servants earning more than $60,000 a year can still move up through their pay bands. . .
Moving up through a pay band is not generally regarded as being the same as a pay rise and if people aren’t getting a pay rise it’s generally regarded as a pay freeze.
That the government realises the need to restrain its spending and is doing something about it ought to be a good thing but in targetting people nurses, police and teachers, most of whom are underpaid for the work they do and responsibilities they have, they’ve hit the wrong target.
It would have been far better to follow the example of John Key and BIll English during the GFC when total public service spending was frozen, excepting health and education and with the direction there was to be no reduction in front-line services.
That left the people paid to manage their departments and ministries to do so by cutting fat and showed the workers, and public that frontline staff were valued.
Instead the government has demonstrated its propensity for control freakery once again, upsetting public servants, unions and gaining no points from the public who generally don’t think the frontline staff in education, health and policing are overpaid.
The government was probably trying to show it can manage its finances well. It hasn’t done that and has also demonstrated political mismanagement in the process.