Trade unions are critical of a salary survey which says business chief executives in New Zealand are still likely to get modest pay rises this year, despite the country being in a recession.
Consultant company Sheffield surveyed almost 500 public and private sector chief executives.
The survey showed chief executives' median base pay rose 5.2% to $176,800 last year. The rate of increase is expected to slow during 2009.
Jarrod Moyle of Sheffield says pay growth is due to slow this year, to more modest rises of up to 3%.
But Finsec, which represents workers in the finance sector, says even a drop to 3%is grossly unfair when others are losing their jobs.
The National Distribution Union says chief executives who do accept pay increases could cause major resentment from other company employees.
Mr Moyle says performance-based pay, which in New Zealand typically equates to almost one-fifth of a chief executive's base salary, has shrunk as top bosses miss targets set by their organisation.
Performance-based pay fell from 65% to 53% while the median bonus payment of $36,670, or 75% of the target payment.