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Posts Tagged ‘politicians’

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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= fs =

League Tables that really count!

20 June 2012 7 comments

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A Real League Table:

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New Zealand’s Most Trusted Professions 2011

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1. Firefighters

2. Rescue volunteers

3. Paramedics

4. Pilots

5. Nurses

6. Medical specialists

7. Pharmacists

8. Veterinarians

9. Armed Forces

10. GPs

11. Police

12. Teachers

13. Scientists

14. Farmers

15. Childcare workers

16. Judges

17. Bus/train/tram drivers

18. Chefs

19. Dentists

20. Psychologists/counsellors

21. Hairdressers

22. Plumbers

23. Waiters

24. Mechanics

25. Builders

26. Cleaners

27. Shop assistants

28. Religious ministers

29. Charity collectors

30. Bankers

31. Accountants

32. Taxi drivers

33. Tow truck drivers

34. CEOs

35. Financial planners

36. Lawyers

37. Celebrities

38. Journalists

39. Real estate agents

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40. Car Salesmen*

41. Sex workers*

42. Politicians*

43. Telemarketers*

* From 2010 Survey, appended to this list.

See:  Reader’s Digest New Zealand’s Most Trusted Professions 2011

See:  Reader’s Digest New Zealand’s Most Trusted Professions 2010

It seems a bit unfair that telemarketers are ranked below politicians.  Telemarketers are simply trying to earn money to put food on their families tables.

And interesting that sex-workers rank above politicians. At least with sex workers, you know when you’re being ‘screwed’*?

At the same time, whilst politicians are second from the bottom of this League Table – teachers rate at #12, between Police and Scientists!

This blogger makes the point that politicians should be looking at themselves and why they rate lower than prostitutes, in the public eye, rather than constantly attacking teachers and our education system.

The only system that is ‘broke’ is not in our schools – it is with our elected representatives.

John Key may crow that his party won the ‘biggest victory’ under MMP – but he’s missing a salient point. People only voted for him and/or National because a whole bunch of voters couldn’t be bothered fighting against misleadingly high poll ratings.

Ok – politicians are at the bottom of this League Table of professions.

So what do they intend to do about it?

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* No offence intended to sex workers.

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Acknowledgement for idea for this blogpost

Katherine Raue

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= fs =

How superficial can the media get?

2 September 2011 3 comments

Oh, about this much…

 

 

At a time when our country faces enormous problems and challenges; with an election less than three months away; with youth unemployment and other economic problems confronting our society – this is what the media feeds us?!

However, hardly surprising really, and Chris Trotter makes this observation as to why our modern media treats us like juveniles…

 

 

I would also venture a suggestion that the same also applies to our apathy at the upcoming Rugby World Cup. Rugby seems no longer about playing the game nor about the spectators. It’s now about multi-million dollar sponsorships and the heavy-handed controls that accompany it.  (See my piece, “What Killed Rugby?“)

The Big Boys have taken over, and they’ve got the ball now. We can either like it or lump it.

Politics and rugby – both victims of elitism.