Thousands of high salaried public servants get pay rises despite Government's pay freeze

Newshub can reveal thousands of high salaried public servants have received pay rises despite the Government's pay freeze. 

More than 2500 Government workers earning over $100,000 a year got pay rises that were only meant to be granted in "exceptional circumstances".

Janet has been working round the clock as a contact tracer - a crucial part of our COVID-19 response - and the thanks she got for keeping us safe was "an MTA voucher - $20 and a cookie". 

"Two years of us working seven-day weeks," she told Newshub. 

Janet didn't get a pay rise: "I wish!"

She is of the 400,000-strong public service who've had their pay effectively frozen since 2020  - a Government belt-tightening exercise in light of the COVID-19 crisis. 

She's one of our allied health workers taking industrial action because the Government won't come to the table with a decent offer. 

"Our wages aren't keeping up with inflation, our powers gone up, our petrol's gone up, our grocery bill... It's really difficult. I'm at the end of my career and I'm finding even now that I'm having to dip into my savings to get by."

And while Janet and her colleagues have been bargaining, the Government has broken its pay freeze for thousands of the public services top earners.

While the pay freeze was effectively in place for anyone earning over $60,000, the strictest freeze was for high earners - for those earning over $100,000, pay rises were outright banned.

The official pay guidance stated there were to be no increases to bands and no pay adjustments for those paid over $100,000.

But in "exceptional circumstances" they could get permission from the Public Service Commission.

It turns out there were a lot of exceptional circumstances. 

At least 2670 public sector workers who earn over $100,000 got a payrise.

"Previously, that bracket were doing very well every year," Public Service Minister Chris Hipkins told Newshub. "The fact that it's down to 15 percent is a significant reduction on what it was before."

ACT leader David Seymour says it's unfair. 

"When the Government says it's doing a pay freeze, there's literally thousands of 'exceptions'. It's just not fair for people struggling with the cost of living crisis."

And there is one agency which has really been making it rain. The Government's housing developer Kāinga Ora gave pay rises to 1048 of its staff paid above $100,000 in 2021, which is about 45 percent of all the the staff at Kāinga Ora. 

The excuse? They hadn't had a pay rise in two to three years and no staff earning over $200,000 got a pay rise. 

But neither has Janet. 

"I've worked in the health system for 50 years and I don't think I've ever felt really so undervalued," she told Newshub. 

It's not how we want our health workforce to feel.