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Women want action, not promises on pay equity

13 May, 2004

Women want action, not promises on pay equity

The Green Party said today that they hoped the recommendations of the Government's taskforce on pay equity would lead to a greater commitment to pay and employment equity in the workforce and support for the nurses' claim for pay equity.

"The Green Party is very pleased to see the Government making a commitment to pay equity in the public sector," said Sue Bradford, the Green spokesperson for Employment.

"It's essential that this Labour government gets the ball rolling immediately because we have no faith in a National-led government doing anything to improve pay equity for women in the workforce.

"Without a commitment to act on the taskforce recommendations, this report would simply be another in a long list of empty promises," said Ms Bradford.

Green spokesperson for Women's Affairs Sue Kedgley said the establishment of a dedicated pay and employment equity unit within the Labour Department was a positive outcome.

"The Greens are delighted that a dedicated pay and employment equity unit would be set up. This reflects Green Party policy that calls for an autonomous Pay Equity Commission in order to affect real change in the public workplace, where women earn only about 80 per cent what men get paid.

"The nurses' situation is an example of a predominantly women-staffed job is seriously undervalued in comparison to equivalent work carried out by men. We strongly support their claim and urge the Government to negotiate a pay equity settlement with nurses," she said.

The Green Party suggested the taskforce's recommendations could be realised through:

-The upcoming budget with funding for fair pay for nurses;

-Legislation requiring all employers to undertake pay audits, to monitor the extent of pay equity or inequity in their workplace;

-A significant change to the Employment Relations Act to make it a breach of good faith not to take genuine steps to address pay and employment equity issues;

-Dropping proposals to change the Employment Law Reform Bill that would repeal the Equal Pay Act, and in fact offer better protections for pay equity.

"International experience shows that legislative change is necessary to ensure progress on pay equity," said Ms Bradford. "New Zealand will not see any progress so long as governments continue refusing to consider legislative change."


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