A union leader has defended a pay rise given to MEA workers.
They were recently awarded 1.5 per cent, despite a much publicised freeze on government workers' pay - introduced to try and help balance government finances.
Although a cross-government pay freeze is in force, pay rises are permitted if the money is found within department's existing budgets.
MEA bosses say the money for the rise has come from within the existing budget and has been made possible by natural wastage and efficiency savings.
Regional industrial organiser for the UNITE union, Steve Salter, says comments made by Economic Development Minister Allan Bell have been misinterpreted.