The latest report from the State Services Commission (SSC) detailing how much leaders in the state sector are paid shows the income imbalance between the top and bottom is growing.
For tertiary education institutions, the average pay increase for a chief executive or vice-chancellor was 1.7 per cent (when including job size increase).
Whilst this was lower than the average increase across the state sector, it goes without saying that an increase of 1.7 per cent to an already huge salary gives chief executives and vice-chancellors far more money each year than the average person working in a tertiary institution.
It is also worth pointing out that public money is often found to fund these pay increases, whilst nothing as yet has been forthcoming to support those staff at Taratahi who are having to provide for their families without being paid at all.
It is even more frustrating when one considers the fact that during collective agreement negotiations a lack of public money can be cited as a reason by bosses for not offering pay increases to all staff.
It is also true to say that many of the problems that have brought places like Taratahi to its knees, or are leading to significant job losses at institutions like Unitec, can be traced back to poor decisions made by past managers.
Taken together these factors mean that more often than not the highest paid are insulated from the effects of poor decision-making, whereas those earning less can have their lives turned upside down when things go wrong.
Last year, in the wake of State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes calling for the brakes to go on chief executive pay across the State Sector, the TEU suggested that tertiary education bosses’ pay be frozen until all institution staff are paid at least the Living Wage.
Reiterating this, national secretary of the TEU, Sharn Riggs, said “the imbalance in pay between the highest and lowest paid at our tertiary institutions is an issue that should concern all New Zealanders. It is ridiculous that some vice-chancellors and chief executives are earning more than the Prime Minister, yet continue to refuse to pay their lowest paid staff enough to provide for their families.”