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Nurse, teacher say Government needs to re-think pay freeze because colleagues will walk

A nurse and a teacher affected by the Government's pay freeze for public servants have joined the Public Service Association's call for it to be re-thought. 

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Michael Cabral-Tarry, teacher PPTA union member wants the Government to re-think the pay freeze. Source: Breakfast

The Government announced last week those working in the public sector earning more than $100,000 would have their pay frozen for another three years, with any pay increases targeted mainly at those earning less than $60,000.

Sandra Richardson, a nurse with more than 30 years experience, told Breakfast she felt nurses were an "easy target" because they were the "largest proportion" in the health system.

She said nurses would walk if they continued to be targeted because they were "overworked, overwhelmed and overstressed". 

This was the same for doctors, lab workers, police, and teachers, Richardson said. 

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"The Government needs to look at the consequences and the significance of what this can do to these people working in those confines."

She called for clearer communication from the Government, pointing out the profession did not know what the three year freeze would mean for it, the health system and the country. 

"I don't think the Government has thought this through what this actually means on the ground. The significance is huge. 

"Think about what this means and what it will mean for individuals, the profession and the country."

Michael Cabral-Tarry, a teacher of 15 years, said the pay freeze meant "we're not really respected by a Labour-led Government".

Also the Auckland regional chairman of the Post Primary Teachers' Association, Cabral-Tarry said there was a "bit of a disconnect" between the Government's praise of public servants during the height of the pandemic and this year. 

He warned there would be a decrease in the number of teachers once the borders reopened because of the pay freeze and access to "greener pastures". 

"You're not going to see teachers coming in, you're going to see teachers already here stretched and pulled."

Cabral-Tarry told Breakfast in the wake of the pay freeze he would be telling young people not to consider teaching. 

"For the amount of money that you get out of work and have to do ... it wouldn't be worth it. Do anything else," he said. 

"There is a gap between your rhetoric and your actions and they need to meet," he said he wanted to say to the Prime Minister. 

Joining Richardson and Cabral-Tarry on Breakfast was PSA national secretary Erin Polaczuk. 

She had written a letter to Public Service Minister Chris Hipkins objecting to the pay freeze and said she would be meeting with the Prime Minister tomorrow. 

She said it was a "rude surprise" Hipkins had made an announcement without consulting the PSA and said it countered the Government's approach earlier in the pandemic to put wages in people's pockets and keep them in jobs. 

“To take an approach that looks like pay restraint just a year later was really unusual and surprising for us and our members," Polaczuk said.

"We think this is a great big misstep and it’s time to re-think it."