Cook Islands Workers Association Concerned About Inflation

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Cost of living increases, averaging 2-5%/yearly, not being addressed

By Matariki Wilson

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, April 23, 2015) – Cook Islands Workers Association (CIWA) president Anthony Turua says he is deeply concerned that increases in the cost of living have not been addressed in the last six years.

"Based on our statistics record, our consumer price index movement has been averaging 2 to 3 per cent per annum," says Turua.

"Therefore in the last five years, employees have lost at least 18 to 20 per cent of their purchasing power."

Turua says that although there has been success in increasing the minimum wage in the last three years by 22 per cent, more needs to be done.

"Minimum wage increases only take care of the bottom level earners and nothing has been done for the medium and high income earners," he says.

"What the minimum wage has done is make the lower income earners congested with the longer-serving employees at the lower end, and the medium-to-high earners continue to lose purchasing power at a greater rate than the lower income earners."

Turua says public servants will be going through a job sizing restructure and CIWA is afraid that the outcome of the restructure will have significant effect on remuneration alignment.

"This means that the some public servants will definitely face an across-the-board pay cut."

Turua says there is a disparity in the remuneration scales in the public sector.

He says CIWA would like the Minister of Finance to take another look at the pay scale to ensure that inflation and the cost of living are being addressed annually and to give workers fair, equitable and just earnings.

The private sector is also facing hardship where consumer spending has reduced and the cost of hire purchase repayments are of great concern, Turua says.

In the Cook Islands’ 50th year of self-government workers should be recognised as this country’s biggest asset, he says.

"Let us look at the New Zealand and Australia model whereby if there is an annual inflation movement it affects everyone even our own retired New Zealand Superannuation earners. IF there is a 2 per cent inflation increase in New Zealand our NZ Super income earners here in the Cook Islands also receive an increase of 2 per cent to their monthly payment."

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