WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) – The legislators in New Zealand are planning to freeze wages at a time when teachers, nurses and other public workers are on strike for more money.
Premier Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday that politicians would refuse a planned 3 percent wage increase this year and freeze their remuneration for 12 months, while working out a fairer formula for future increases.
Ardern said there is an increasing gap between what low- and middle-income deserve New Zealanders and what high-paid workers such as politicians earn.
"Now this step does not save a lot of money in the whole of things, but it gives us a strong signal about what our government values, what we stand for and our determination to ensure that the economy works for everyone, & # 39; Ardern said.
The plan still has to be approved by lawmakers. Ardern said that politicians from the ruling coalition agreed on the measure and that they could also receive support from opposition parties.
Since the liberal government of Ardern came to power last year, thousands of public employees have gone on strike and demanded better wages and conditions.
Approximately 30,000 nurses and health workers went through a day-long strike last month, while almost as many teachers and directors went out for a day this month. The nurses have since reached an agreement that has ended the threat of further strike actions.
Ardern currently pays 471,000 New Zealand dollars ($ 312,000) and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters receives NZ $ 335,000 ($ 222,000). The other 118 lawmakers in parliament are paid between NZ $ 164,000 and NZ $ 296,000, depending on their grades and responsibilities.
In comparison, President Donald Trump receives $ 400,000 annually. As a candidate Trump promised not to take a salary. According to the law, he must be paid, so he has donated the money.
When asked whether New Zealand politicians were overpaid compared to those in countries with a much larger population, Ardern said they recognized that they earned a high income, but said that there were probably a number of factors in how systems operated in other jurisdictions.