Despite New Zealand's accounts revealing extra billions in the kitty compared to budget forecasts, Finance Minister Grant Robertson isn't about to soften his public sector pay clampdown.
Mr Robertson announced a pay freeze for much of New Zealand's 400,000-strong public workforce on Wednesday, setting the scene for months of industrial struggle.
The Public Service Association (PSA) say they've been deluged with responses from thousands of their members dismayed with the government's approach.
"People out there are very angry," a union source told AAP.
Anger and frustration was evident in local reporting, with many saying they felt abandoned or unsupported by Jacinda Ardern's government.
Workers covered by the wage freeze include many border and health workers crucial to New Zealand's world-leading response to COVID-19.
Mr Robertson - who has a reputation as a fiscal conservative - defended the move, despite the anger it has brought to one of Labour's core constituencies.
"We've seen very solid wage growth in the public sector in New Zealand in recent years," he told AAP.
"New Zealand, as part of our recovery from COVID-19, has to strike a balance."
On Thursday morning, Treasury released its updated financial accounts, showing a bumper return due to better than expected economic conditions.
As of March 2021, the government had an operating balance of $NZ5.2 billion ($A4.85 billion) more than it thought it would in December.
Net core Crown debt is at $NZ105.3 billion ($A981 billion) - $NZ6.6 billion ($A6.15 billion) less than forecast - or 33.3 per cent of GDP.
Mr Robertson says he's focusing on the hundred-billion dollar debt rather than the smaller multi-billion dollar savings.
"We've got to be very careful about what those accounts say. We're doing significantly better than had been expected but we still are going to be having large scale debt increases and deficits for years to come," he said.
Under the government guidance, workers earning over $NZ100,000 ($A92,730) will be barred from pay rises, while those earning over $NZ60,000 ($A55,640) will only be permitted pay bumps in exceptional circumstances.
Ms Ardern also defended the move, saying previously negotiated increases would still occur.
"A graduate nurse, for instance, will in their first year, still move up eight per cent," she told TVNZ.
"We're really calling for increases for those who are in those particularly low incomes ... this has been an issue of inequality in New Zealand we've been working to tackle for some time."
Around 25 per cent of Kiwi public servants earn less than $60,000.
Australian Associated Press
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