The Cook Islands financial secretary, Richard Neves, says the country cannot afford higher public service wages.
This follows a call by the Cook Islands Workers Association, whose president, Anthony Turua, says he is deeply concerned that increases in the cost of living have not been addressed for six years.
Mr Neves says the Cook Islands cannot accommodate demands to pay more.
He told the Cook Islands News that cost of living adjustments to public sector pay packets are from a 'bygone era.'
Mr Neves says a wide ranging increase in wages cannot happen without a significant improvement in productivity.