TODAY |

PM won't say how much money saved by public servant pay freeze when challenged by John Campbell

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern could not say how much money the Government will save due to its extension of the freeze on public servants pay, when she appeared on Breakfast today.

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The Prime Minister says in the wake of Covid-19 the Government had to bring in the pay freeze. Source: Breakfast

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

It comes after Covid-19 saw the Government asked public service agencies to have minimal or no pay increases for public servants until June this year.

Appearing on Breakfast today, Ardern could not answer John Campbell's question about how much money the Government would save in making this decision. 

"The answer I'm giving you, John, is that assumes we know the outcome of negotiations that we haven't started yet. So if you'd let me finish answering the question."

She could not be drawn on a ballpark figure, either.

"Again, I don't think that would be in good faith. The PSA's written a letter which you've got that talks about good faith negotiation. Of course if I suddenly come out and say how much we've saved, ultimately that's not a figure we would have," Ardern said.

Despite a nurse and a teacher and the Public Service Association earlier appearing on the programme to appeal to the Government to re-think the freeze, Ardern said the Government needed to keep making a difference when it came to inequalities. 

"We want to see those on the lowest wages moving up. We have very low paid workers within the public sector and we want to keep seeing those wages being lifted," Ardern said.

She said the freeze would not stop people moving up pay scales or affect pay equity negotiations or existing agreements. 

Ardern also said change needed to be made to low pay scales which moved "very little" and said the Government expected "restraint" for those who earned over $100,000.

"This is our guidance, our starting point, our perspective on what we need to do and now we come together with employee representatives."