NSW Premier, Nathan Rees has said the remuneration tribunal’s recent decision to award senior bureaucrats salary increases of up to four per cent was against his wishes.
The Statutory and Other Officers Remuneration Tribunal has granted senior executives in the NSW Government an immediate increase in their salary packages of 2.5 per cent, with a further 1.4 per cent bonus to be approved based on productivity improvements.
Under the new policy, senior staff would be eligible to receive up to an additional $60,000.
The NSW Government attempted to curb the rise in its submission to the tribunal, stressing how wages growth in the NSW public sector exceeded increases in both the inflation rate and those of employees in the NSW private sector.
“Pending the response from the tribunal, agency CEOs may only approve payment of the 2.5 per cent increase (subject to satisfactory performance),” Mr Rees wrote in the submission.
The tribunal, however, said the four per cent pay rise was in line with other states and the 2.5 per cent limit should be lifted to tackle skill shortages in the public sector.
“The Government needs to be able to recruit the best possible candidates to the senior executive service to lead and direct the public sector,” it said in the report.
“The senior executive service is not immune from the challenges posed by an ageing workforce and skill shortages on the one hand and, on the other, an increasingly mobile workforce which recognised no state or national or international boundaries.
“Any further compression of remuneration, particularly with the senior officers, would only exacerbate this problem,” it said.
Mr Rees faced criticisms over the generous pay rise amid the economy downturn and argued he had not taken part in the decision-making process and he was seeking options to delay further increases.
“I will be very clear: I have nothing to do with those approvals,” he told parliament.
“The remuneration tribunal is at arm’s length from the Government, as it should be.
“I have asked for advice on the options available to me to vary the most recent determination by the tribunal. As I previously outlined, my preference was for the 2.5 per cent and ant other additional increase to be held back until productivity savings had been made,” Mr Rees said.
A copy of the tribunal’s report can be viewed here.
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