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Time To Take Pay Equity Seriously

08/07/02

“A sound economy depends on fair pay and working conditions for all New Zealanders. Pay equity benefits everyone by removing artificial barriers in the labour market that cause economic disadvantage” Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan said today.

The Human Rights Commission welcomes today’s launch of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs discussion document on the “Next Steps Towards Pay Equity”.

“Despite the existence of equal pay legislation for almost three decades, it has not delivered pay equity for women and fails to comply with international human rights standards”, Rosslyn Noonan, the Chief Human Rights Commissioner said today.

“Initially when the Equal Pay Act was passed, steady progress was made towards closing the gender pay gap. However, in the last 17 years women’s average hourly earnings compared to men’s has moved marginally from 79.3% to 83.4%.”

“It is notable that the Ministry of Women’s Affairs discussion paper identifies that the pay gap is also an ethnicity issue. We need to consider the significance of statistics that show that average hourly earnings of Maori and Pacific women are 86% and 82% (respectively) of Pakeha women’s average hourly earnings”.

Policies such as paid parental leave, equal employment opportunities and the promotion of fair bargaining can improve women’s ability to participate fully in the labour market. However, this is just a small part of the picture. The real challenge is to systematically address covert forms of discrimination and hidden structural disadvantage.

“New Zealand has the capacity rise to the challenge and take leadership on pay equity. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs discussion paper is a sound basis for New Zealanders to engage in a national discussion and develop a fresh approach to pay equity. The Commission is looking forward to actively contributing to this discussion,” Ms Noonan added.

Ends

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