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Posts Tagged ‘MPs payrise’

Budget 2013: Radio NZ and politicians

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RNZ board concerned over budget freeze

Acknowledgment: RNZ board concerned over budget freeze

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At a time when state sector workers have received little or no pay increases, perhaps one of the worst cases of worker exploitation is at Radio New Zealand.

This year, yet again, there was no provision in this Budget to give a pay rise to Radio NZ staff. Not one cent.

In fact, Radio NZ staff have not recieved a pay increase since 2009,

The Government froze funding despite an independent “baseline funding review” from accountancy firm KPMG, which showed Radio NZ was underfunded and understaffed, and underpaid its employees.

The review – commissioned by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and which the Herald obtained under the Official Information Act – was initially withheld by the Government.

Published in November 2007, the KPMG review said Radio NZ – which broadcasts Radio NZ National and Radio NZ – needed $7 million to $7.6 million to meet commitments in 2008-2009 and was short of 25 employees. The shortfall would grow to $8.6 million to $9.5 million and 40 staff by 2010-2011.

The Labour Government last year increased Radio NZ’s funding by $2.4 million. But an insider said that money had been taken up by inflation and Radio NZ faced essentially the same problems to sustain services as in 2007.

Acknowledgment: Pay freeze tipped as Radio NZ slashes costs

Interestingly, Statistics NZ states that  salary/wage rates (including overtime) for the public sector rose by 1.6% in the year to the June 2012. (see:  Labour Cost Index (Salary and Wage Rates): June 2012 quarter) Obviously Radio NZ staff recieved none of that increase and the 1.6% figure is probably made up mostly of executive’s generous increases on their already bloated salaries.

Just a few of the state sector executives who have recieved  salary increases, as reported last year;

  • Albert Brantley – CEO, Genesis Power – $1.18 million (up 22%)
  • Don Elder – CEO, Solid Energy – $1.4 million (up 11%)
  • John Allen – MFAT –  $620,000-$630,000  (up from $580,000-$590,000, 2011)
  • Doug Heffernan – CEO, Mighty River Power –  $1.8 million (up 34%)
  • Tim Lusk – former CEO, Meridian – $1.22m  (up 42%)

And MPs are not shy at accepting regular pay increases. As the Herald’s Adam Bennett reported last December (2012);

MPs will receive a 1.9 per cent pay increase, the Remuneration Authority confirmed this afternoon.

The salary increases are deemed to have come into effect on July 1 this year meaning MPs will receive back pay for the last six months. That works out to $1400 for backbench MPs and $3895 for the Prime Minister…

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… Since 2009 general salaries and wages had risen by 5.6 per cent while parliamentary salaries excluding the $2000 and $5000 increases to make up for he loss of travel perks, had risen by only 2.9 per cent, the authority said.

Acknowledgment: NZ Herald –  MPs get 1.9 per cent pay rise

It’s self-evident how politicians view issues surrounding pay increases for themselves and executives, as opposed to staff at state owned enterprises.

What makes the zero pay increase for Radio NZ staff even more problematic – and downright reeking of surreptitious political interference – is that Radio NZ is the only remaining public broadcaster left in this country after the demise of TVNZ7 last year.

Judging by the high number of National ministers who refuse invitations to be interviewed by Radio NZ journalists, it is abundantly clear that right wing politicians fear and loathe the public broadcaster. Aside from a few gutsy journos (eg, Patrick Gower, John Campbell, and Guyon Espiner) on TV3, there are few left in corporate electronic  media willing to risk the ire of this current government.

National ministers simply don’t have the balls (except maybe Judith “Democracy Crusher” Collins) to close down or privatise Radio NZ.

Strangling it with lack of funding and underpaying staff is a safer, sneakier way to achieve that goal.

It’s pretty much like killing a potplant you got as a Christmas present from your Aunt Dotty. You can’t throw it out because Aunty would notice, so you “do the deed” by denying it water.

How else to explain that politicians have been awarded substantial annual salary increases – whilst Radio NZ staff have received nothing?

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Annual Salary Increases: 2009 – 2012

MPs % Increase

Radio NZ % increase

2009 nil

nil

2010 10%

nil

2011 1.5% + $5000 payment to compensate for lost international travel perk

nil

2012

1.9% (backdated 6 months)

nil

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This is not just about the “politics of envy” – this is about the principles of  equity. We simply cannot afford to let a taonga such as Radio NZ wither and die.

Easy Solution?

The easiest solution? Tie ALL salary adjustments of state sector employees, management, executives, as well as the judiciary and elected representatives, to determinations by the Remunerations Authority.

If a salary increase is good enough for members of Parliament, then it’s good enough for everyone else paid by the taxpayer.

As  John Key exhorted in 2009,

“I think it is wholly appropriate that the Government leads by example.”

Acknowledgment: Key urges restraint on MP salary rises

Indeed, Mr Key, indeed.

Now would be a good time to show that you mean what you say.

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References

Save Radio NZ

Beehive: Key urges restraint on MP salary rises (22 Jan 2009)

Radio NZ: RNZ board concerned over budget freeze (16 May 2012)

Statistics NZ: Labour Cost Index (Salary and Wage Rates): June 2012 quarter

Additional

NZ Herald: Pay freeze tipped as Radio NZ slashes costs (31 Aug 2009)

TV3:  Govt accused of pay rise double standards (26 March 2012)

NZ Herald: CEO Pay Survey: Salaries stall for NZ’s top bosses (8 June 2012)

NZ Herald: Top public sector pay packets revealed (11 Oct 2012)

NZ Herald:  MPs get 1.9 per cent pay rise (20 Dec 2012)

Previous related blogposts

Why the Remuneration Authority just doesn’t get it

From July 1 onwards

TVNZ7 – value for money!

TVNZ7 – Picking at the body before it’s cold

21 May – Public meeting: TVNZ7 gets the big tick!

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Why the Remuneration Authority just doesn’t get it

27 December 2012 20 comments

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PUT-THE-POLITICIANS-ON-MINIMUM-WAGE-AND-WATCH-HOW-FAST-THINGS-CHANGE

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When you read media stories like this, you know that Alice has company in Wonderland,

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MPs pay rise less than other workers - authority

Full story

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(Or is it La La Land?!)

When Remuneration Authority, chief executive John Errington says,

Since fiscal year 2009 general salaries and wages have increased by 5.6 per cent and the Consumers Price Index has increased by 8 per cent. Parliamentary salaries . . . have increased by only 2.9 per cent. This still leaves members of Parliament receiving lower remuneration increases than the general population.

See: IBID

For the record, the increases mean the following,

$419,300 Prime Minister ($7790 increase)
$297,400 Deputy PM ($5600)
$262,700 Crown ministers, the Speaker, Leader of the Opposition ($4900)
$158,700 Party leader base salary ($3000)
$144,600 Backbench MPs ($2800)
$52,676 average NZ wage

See: Christmas rise gives PM $3900 backpay, $150 more a week

On top of which, the increases,

  •  are back-dated to 1 July 2012
  •  exclude a $2,000 increase in 2011, and a $5,000 increase in 2011, to “compensate MPs for the loss of their international travel perk and a significant drop in their domestic travel bill”
  • exclude a $24,000 a year subsidy toward their rent/accommodation in Wellington
  • exclude $16,100 a year for expenses such as new luggage, flowers, gifts, memberships, and meals.

Nice work if you can get it.

Meanwhile, back in the Real World,

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Resthome spy hails saint-like workers

Full story

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When the Prime Minister, our very own Dear Leader, John Key was presented with the situation of rest home workers being paid an apalling figure of around $14.61 an hour, his response was,

“Travel is one of those areas where we are looking at what we can do,” he told TVNZ’s Breakfast programme.

However, the Government could not afford to give DHBs the $140 million required to enable rest homes to pay their staff more.

It’s one of those things we’d love to do if we had the cash. As the country moves back to surplus it’s one of the areas we can look at but I think most people would accept this isn’t the time we have lots of extra cash.

“You could certainly change the proportion of where you spend money in health. We spend about $14.5 billion in the overall health sector.

“What’s going to go to pay the increase in this area? If you said all of the increase is going to go into this area, that would be roughly $600m over the forecast period which is four years… So that would have left us $1bn for other things.

“We put the money into cancer care and nursing and various other things. On balance, we think we got that about right.”

See: PM: No money for aged care workers

Interesting that there is plenty of tax-money for subsidising businesses; rugby world cup tournaments; politician’s salaries and perks – but when it comes to the lowest paid, hardest working, people in our society  – Key’s response is; ” It’s one of those things we’d love to do if we had the cash “.

Yup. It’s La La Land.

Here’s a thought; why not link the minimum wage to that of Members of Parliament?

So when politicians get a pay increase – so do those at the bottom of the economic ladder.

In fact, let’s make it a point that any increase also applies to those earning minimum wages receiving similar perks to politicians; eg; travel and food subsidies, in the form of   weekly vouchers for petrol, food, and electricity.

The lowest paid people in our society might actually start looking forward to salary and perks increases for our MPs and Ministers. And MPs would have a whole new fanclub.

What are the chances?

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Previous related blogposts

Roads, grandma, and John Key

John Key’s track record on raising wages – 4. Rest Home Workers

Aged Care: The Price of Compassion

References

Fairfax media: Resthome spy hails saint-like workers

Fairfax media: PM: No money for aged care workers

Fairfax media: MPs pay rise less than other workers – authority

NZ Herald: Christmas rise gives PM $3900 backpay, $150 more a week

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“One law for all” – except MPs. (Part Rua)

2 February 2012 4 comments

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The issue of privacy, politicians,  government departments, and ordinary citizens is something that has played out in the public arena in the last few years…

In 2009,  two women;  solo-mothers;  on the domestic purposes benefit;  criticised the Government for cutting the Training Incentive Allowance (TIA).

This was the same TIA that Paula Bennett herself used to put herself through University,

I have never made a secret of the fact I have been on and off the benefit and that I did receive the TIA.

What I can tell those people who are looking at tertiary study is that it’s not going to be easy but if they back themselves, and this Government is backing them as well, then they can get off the benefit. They may even end up a cabinet minister.” – Source

The two women were on training courses to be a teacher and  nurse.

In retaliation to criticism, Bennett gained  access to their MSD (Ministry of Social Development)  files and released figures regarding the two women’s WINZ payments, to the media.  In doing so, Bennett clearly violated the women’s, privacy,

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Full Story

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Bennett defended her actions by stating that she wanted to  “round up a one-sided story“.  Bennett added that “she had not sought the women’s permission she felt they had taken the matter public by talking to the news media and writing on the internet“. (Source)

So there you go, folks. The rules set by the current regime are simple; if you criticise the government and talk to the media – be prepared to have the State retaliate, using your own personal information against you. (Stalin would be proud!)

Fast forward to December, last year,

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Full Story

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WINZ head,  Janet Grossman said,

These people have let us down badly. Their actions cast a shadow over our honest and hard working staff who understand that client privacy is sacrosanct.”

It is a shame that Paula Bennett’s – and other politicians – understanding of “sacrosanct privacy” appears to differ  markedly  from what you and I might think on the subject.

So  it was hardly surprising that  John Key was scathing in the matter of  a secretly-recorded conversation between himself and John Banks,  at the Urban Cafe in Epsom last year,

I’m not bothered in the slightest about what is on the tape, secondly, I am very bothered by the tactics that I believe have been deliberately deployed by the ‘Herald on Sunday’.” – Source

Politicians, though,  have recourse to  the full force of State power – the police – to guard their privacy. And John Key certainly seemed to have no qualms about engaging the Police on this issue. After all, as Key stated,

The good thing is we’ve lowered the crime rate by seven per cent across the country so they do have a little bit of spare time and this is a really important issue.” – Source

A politician’s privacy is “important” – even if half the media-contingent in Auckland were present at the meeeting between Banks and Key.  Folks can see for themselves just how private their conversation really was,

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The “moral” of this story?

If you’re an employee at WINZ, and access personal files of clients without appropriate reasons – then expect to lose your job.

If you’re the Prime Minister – your conversations are always private. Never mind the dozens of  journalists you’ve invited to the latest pre-arranged photo-op. (If in doubt, the Police can be called to enforce the Prime Minister’s wishes.)

If you’re a recipient of social welfare – then your privacy is at the discretion of government ministers.

Have I missed anything out?

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Previous Blog entries

Hon. Paula Bennett, Minister of Hypocrisy

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