A Cook Islands trade union leader says if the government is serious about overcoming depopulation it must increase public servants' wages.
The Cook Islands Workers Association's Anthony Turua says there have been no adjustments in the past 8 years and public servants have lost as much as 24 percent of their buying power.
He says claims by the financial secretary, Richard Neves, that the country cannot afford a cost of living adjustment ring hollow when a lot of infrastructure work is being undertaken.
Mr Turua says if the Cooks is to retain its people it must pay them a decent wage and provide them with a decent living.
"Already we have got a crisis in terms of our depopulation. So why they are leaving? - it is purely because of the remuneration."