Salaries in high-demand industries are expected to rise this year as New Zealand's talent pool dries up.
But a trade union says significant rises are only happening at the higher end of the income bracket, while those workers at the bottom get next to nothing.
First Union general secretary Robert Reid said those workers who really needed increases were being offered a pittance.
"What we are seeing late last year and early this year is many employers trying to screw the wage [rises] of the majority of their workers down to not much more than the rate of inflation, which is under 2 per cent."
Mr Reid said only a year ago those salary increases for lower paid employees were between 3 and 5 per cent.
He said the union, which represents 27,000 workers in finance, industrial, distribution, transport and retail, had not noticed an increased confidence in business at salary review time.
"We're being told they don't have enough money for that, things are tight, things are hard and that workers should expect no more than the rate of inflation which at the moment is between 1.6 and 1.8 per cent."
He said salary jumps of $20,000 pointed to the growing inequality between highly skilled workers and workers who desperately needed more money.
"Not so they can worry about their next overseas trip or next holiday home or next meal at a restaurant, but those who actually worry about is there even enough food to put on the table for the week."
Mr Reid said Government sector workers had received only between 0 to 2 per cent wage rises for the past four years.
Excerpt from NZ Herald story today. Read the full story online here.