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Pay equity threatened by National

Hon Ruth Dyson
Minister of Women’s Affairs

6 September 2005 Media Statement

Pay equity threatened by National

Efforts to close the pay gap between men and women would be jeopardised under a National government, Women’s Affairs Minister Ruth Dyson said today.

Releasing Labour’s Women’s Issues policy, Ms Dyson said Labour would continue to implement its five-year plan to address pay and employment equity in the public service and health and education sectors, in an effort to close the 13.4 per cent average pay gap between men and women.

But, she said, a response by National posted on the New Zealand PSA website showed they had no such commitment.

“When asked by the PSA if they would implement the pay and employment five-year plan of action to close the gender pay gap in the state sector, National replied that the provisions of the Human Rights Act offer the best protection for workers.

“In the absence of a straight answer, we must assume the real answer is ‘no’.
This is not surprising. The first thing National did when they came to power in 1990 was to repeal existing pay equity legislation. It’s clear that their intention is to once again dismantle the structures set up by Labour to ensure men and women are treated equally in the workplace.”

Ruth Dyson said National’s health policy, announced today, was also bad for women.

“National has thrown out Labour’s policy of universal doctor subsidies and focus on community-based health care, in a return to a system of user pays already rejected by New Zealanders in the 1990s. This will benefit private health insurance companies, but not women and their children, who are the main users of primary health care services.”

Ruth Dyson said Labour’s policies recognised that women contributed to society in many ways - through both paid and unpaid work, as mothers, caregivers, paid workers and business owners.

“Labour’s policies promote genuine choice for women throughout their lives. Our priorities in the next term are work-life balance, supporting families, economic sustainability, student support, women’s health and well-being, and prevention of family violence.

“Initiatives such as the extension of paid parental leave to self-employed women, free early childhood education for all three and four-year-olds, interest-free student loans, and improved family assistance through Working for Families will enable women to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.”

ENDS

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