New Zealand lawmakers are planning to take a pay freeze at a time that teachers, nurses and other public workers have been going on strike for more money.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday announced that politicians would turn down a planned 3 percent pay raise this year and would freeze their pay for 12 months while they worked out a fairer formula for future raises.
Ardern said there is an increasing gap between what low and middle-income New Zealanders earn and what highly paid workers, such as politicians, earn.
“Now this move doesn’t save a lot of money in the scheme of things, but it does send, we believe, a strong signal about what our government values, what we stand for and our determination to make sure the economy is working for everyone,” Ardern said.
The plan still needs to be approved by lawmakers.
Ardern said that politicians from the ruling coalition had agreed on the measure and that it might also get support from opposition political parties.
Since Ardern’s liberal government came to power last year, thousands of public workers have gone on strike demanding better pay and conditions.
About 30,000 nurses and healthcare workers last month went on a day-long strike, while nearly as many teachers and principals this month walked off the job for a day.
The nurses have since reached an agreement that has ended the threat of further strike action.
Ardern is paid NZ$471,000 (US$312,000) annually and New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters is paid NZ$335,000.
The other 118 lawmakers in parliament are paid between NZ$164,000 and NZ$296,000, depending on their ranks and responsibilities.
By comparison, US President Donald Trump is paid US$400,000 annually. As a candidate, Trump promised not to take a salary. By law, he must be paid, so he has been donating the money.
Asked if New Zealand politicians were overpaid compared with those in countries with much larger populations, Ardern said she acknowledged that they were high-income earners, but said there was likely a range of factors in how systems in other jurisdictions worked.
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy
Japan’s government yesterday urged people to seek help if they were struggling to cope, following Sunday’s death of the popular actress and Miss Sherlock star Yuko Takeuchi, 40. News of her death shocked the nation and follows other recent cases of Japanese celebrities taking their lives, with figures showing a recent rise in suicides. Takeuchi was a household name in Japan and had given birth to her second child in January. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato did not mention a particular case, but said that some people were struggling to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There has been an uptick in the number
China on Thursday lashed out at the US at a high-level UN meeting over its criticism on the COVID-19 pandemic, with its envoy declaring, “Enough is enough.” Two days after US President Donald Trump used his annual address to the General Assembly to attack China’s record, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft, also took an outraged tone — after which her Chinese counterpart showed palpable anger. “I must say, enough is enough. You have created enough troubles for the world already,” Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun (張軍) told a Security Council meeting on global governance attended through videoconference