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Pay equity legislation ready to go

For the last decade women have consistently been paid on average only four fifths of their male counterpart's pay'. Clearly the market has not delivered. Even Mrs Shipley must now accept that gender gaps don't disappear without intervention.

That's why the Alliance has legislation ready to go on day one of a new government. By July 1st of 2000 we could have a Pay Equity Office up and running,' Alliance spokesperson for Workplace Relations, Laila Harre said today.

'In 1990 Mrs Shipley promised that deregulation would deliver equal pay for work of equal value. It hasn't. 'The pay gap between man and women has at best remained static at about 80% of male earnings. National hasn't just put pay equity on a back burner, its let it fall right off the stove.’

Laila Harre's Equal Pay For Work Of Equal Value Bill would set up a system of pay equity claims based on determinations of work of equal value. The claims process would be enforceable through the Employment Tribunal and the Employment Court.

It would also establish a Pay Equity Office. The Office would have the job of collecting information on gaps in pay between female workers and their male counterparts, and the ability to inspect workplaces and grant certificates. The Bill is ready to be adopted as soon as a new government is elected.

Pay equity legislation would simply bring us into line with the international community. For example UK, Canada, Ireland and other European countries. The Bill sets up a process to evaluate the level of skill, effort, and responsibility required for work where at least 60% of the employees are female, compared to similar areas of work where at least 60% of the employees are male. It then compares pay packets. It would look at whether it is fair that nurses earn less than police officers, clothing machinists earn less than construction workers, checkout supervisors earn less than storepersons, for example.

In 1990 Mrs Shipley, as Minister of Women's Affairs repealed the Employment Equity Act which had been introduced only months before by the former Labour government. She promised that the market would close the gap, and that National would get rid of tertiary fees, which would help more women into education and therefore better paid jobs.

National have since increased tertiary fees. The Pay equity gap remains. In 1995 Mrs Shipley continued to promise: “The wage gap will slowly correct itself.... But there is a very interesting debate as to whether it will ever be neutral and I suspect the privilege of bearing children will one way or another automatically ensure that it never closes entirely.''

So much for Mrs Shipley's commitment to equal pay for New Zealand women. National has completely failed to deliver. The Alliance is ready with a plan of action to get rid of that pay gap once and for all,' said Laila Harre.

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