PSA and authority clash over claims office cleaners will be paid more than public servants

Parliamentary drivers and office cleaners will be paid more than highly qualified public servants under new guidelines from the kingdom’s Remuneration Authority, the Public Service Association claimed today.

In a statement sent to the media, the PSA claimed that the pay scales recommended by the Authority were unfair and worse than the ones that triggered a strike by the PSA in 2005.

However, the Remuneration Authority has hit back, describing the PSA’s press release as full of “gross falsehoods” and claiming that it had actually recommended cutting Parliamentary workers’ salaries.

The authority said it was legally required to be fair to public servants, private sector workers, the Ministries, Tongan taxpayers and taxpayers in countries which helped the government pay salaries.

The Authority conducted a review of PSA salaries under the direction of the Public Services Commission.

It issued two reports, one in June 2014 covering the PM, government ministers, judges, Members of Parliament, Police, members of the armed forces, prison and fire officers, all Public Enterprise CEOs, boards, commissions, authorities, tribunals and certain senior government executive positions and one in September 2015, covering all public servants in government ministries.

PSA Secretary General, Mele ‘Amanaki said her association “violently rejected” the Authorities recommendations because they were unfair.

“A driver ($27,046), security officer ($21,679), office cleaner ($21,679) and groundsman ($21,679) with no academic qualifications and minimal job responsibilities in Parliament have higher salaries than some of the positions in the Public Service with more job responsibilities for public servants who are Master’s, Bachelor’s and Diploma graduates, who earn between $10,000 – $26,000,” ‘Amanaki said.

She said that under the Authority’s proposal the salaries of Town and District Officers were still at the bottom of the scale.

“We are aware that the PSC, RA and the Hon. Minister of Finance are pushing for the RA Reports to be approved by Cabinet for implementation in July 2016 despite the submission by majority of the CEOs in the Public Service recommending for the reports to be deferred for proper consultations,” she said.

She said the review should be done again by properly trained staff

“We do not want to repeat what had happened in 2005,” ‘Amanaki said.

In a three page rebuttal, the Remuneration Authority said the PSA’s statements were false and misleading.

In a statement to the media, it said the reports were still with Cabinet and not yet been approved.

It said claims that Town and District Officer’s new salaries would  be at the bottom of the scale were false and that it had actually recommended increasing payment to these officers because the nature and responsibilities of these roles had changed significantly since the last evaluation in 1982.

The Remuneration Authority said the nature and responsibilities of these positions had changed significantly since 1982 (when the last evaluation was done).

The Authority also denied that Ministry CEO’s were opposed to the recommendations.

“The majority of CEOs actually recommended further consultation to be provided to be more inclusive of all their staff before April 15, 2016,” the Authority said.

“In fact, subject to certain CEO conditions being met (including another nine percent cost of living allowance for public servants), they actually recommended the Remuneration Authority’s Reports, and recommendations be made effective from July 1, 2016.”

The PSA has issued a Notice of Employment Dispute over the issue.

The main points

  • Parliamentary drivers and office cleaners will be paid more than highly qualified public servants under new guidelines from the kingdom’s Remuneration Authority, the Public Service Association claimed today.
  • In a statement sent to the media, the PSA claimed that the pay scales recommended by the Authority were unfair and worse than the ones that triggered a strike by the PSA in 2005.
  • However, the Remuneration Authority has hit back, describing the PSA’s press release as full of “gross falsehoods” and claiming that it had recommended cutting Parliamentary workers’ salaries.
  • The Authority conducted a review of PSA salaries under the direction of the Public Services Commission.

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