10 May 2017

Pre-election pay rise in Niue raises concerns

8:55 am on 10 May 2017

Newly elected Niue MP Terry Coe says civil servants should not have been awarded a pay rise so close to the election.

Fale fono, Niue

Fale fono, Niue Photo: RNZ/ Sally Round

Most workers in Niue are employed by the government and Mr Coe says the recent hikes for up to 40 percent of government workers affected the election results.

Provisional results showed Mr Coe was the second highest polling candidate and the former premier Sir Toke Talagi polled third.

Nevertheless, Mr Coe said the timing was wrong, the hikes too high and the Public Service Commission should take the full blame.

"They could have done it either after or at the start of this year but the problem was that some of the people got massive rises, you know, from $27,000 up to $40,000, from $12,000 up to $26,000."

Mr Coe said the pay rise made it harder for private businesses to attract workers.

However, the chairman of Niue's Public Service Commission Atapana Siakimotu dismissed complaints about the pay rise.

Mr Siakimotu said the rise for some workers three weeks ago was part of a process to bring salaries up to 80 percent of comparable rates in New Zealand.

He said the rises had come through as resources have become available and there was no other reason for the timing.

"This is not a new exercise that's just been put up this year. This exercise has been ongoing and gradual since 2015 when we got the OK to go ahead and then we started it and it's not an exercise also that we are able to put everybody on in 2015 because of the financial impact on the budgetary resources."

Mr Siakimotu said the pay rises were aimed at retaining staff and attracting more Niueans back to the island.