Tonga’s Public Service Association Calls For Deferment Of New Salary Structure

Remuneration Authority says PSA is misrepresenting the truth to discredit its work

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Jun 30, 2016) – A new call by the Public Service Association to defer tomorrow’s rollout of a new salary structure until 2017 has been criticized by Tonga’s Remuneration Authority who stated today that claims, made by the PSA Secretary General, Mele ‘Amanaki that they had overlooked employee concerns, are misleading.

A second petition to defer the implementation of a new salary structure for civil servants from 1 July 2016 to 1 January 2017 was submitted yesterday by Mele ‘Amanaki to the Prime Minister Hon. ‘Akilisi Pohiva. Her PSA petition claims the Remuneration Authority and the Public Service Commission (PSC) have not addressed employee concerns.

Responding today, the Remuneration Authority stated that the PSA’s claims were “misrepresentations of the truth to discredit the work of the Public Service Commission and the Remuneration Authority.”

The authority claims that the real reason for the petition is that the PSA wants a 9% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for all public servants, “costing taxpayers an estimate of $12.3 million, before the new salary structure is implemented.”

The PSA, meanwhile, says that Cabinet promised to conduct further consultation to ensure the concerns of workers were reduced prior to the new salary structure being implemented when they presented them with a petition at their meeting on 26 April.

The Remuneration Authority in response claims that the consultation process was completed with all Ministries, as directed by the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and that Cabinet approved a final direction on 13 May relating to the Remuneration Reports.

Other concerns of the PSA include an ongoing argument around bonus systems and revised job descriptions and other matters. Mele stated that they want “to reduce the concerns to avoid what had happened in 2005” - referring to the disruptive 2005 civil service strike.

PSA are submitting a petition to Cabinet, and also intend to petition the King and Parliament and the Courts to defer implementation of the new salary structure for a further six months.

“Fear campaign”

But the Remuneration Authority stated that Ms Amanaki’s use of the issue and “continuing fear campaign using threats of a public strike is not constructive….”

They dismissed her contentions and stated that “The core of the claim by Mele ‘Amanaki as what was ‘overlooked’ by the Remuneration was twisted and misrepresented.”

The Remuneration Authority issued its first Remuneration Report in June 2014 containing remuneration recommendations for positions under the Authority’s responsibility under the Remuneration Authority Act 2010.

The Remuneration Authority today submitted the results of their consultation (including public servants who filed revised job descriptions) to the Public Service Commission and then to Cabinet, adding that the results would be included in the recommendations already submitted and approved for implementation by the Cabinet.

The new structure, based on a recommendation that all positions paid from public funds, whether directly from taxpayer funds or through government bodies, regardless of their relative importance, use the same job evaluation method. Incremental increases would be linked to better performance and not automatic every year.

The Remuneration Authority added that a large number of public servants are not members of the PSA.

Members of the Remuneration Authority are: Siosi C. Mafi (chair), Posesi Boomfield (deputy chair), Meleseini Lomu, Dr Taniela Fusimalohi and Dr Pita Taufatofua.

Matangi Tonga Magazine
Copyright © 2016 Matangi Tonga. All Rights Reserved

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