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Pay equity within a decade

Pay equity within a decade

The New Zealand Nurses’ Organisation (NZNO) believes the Government already has the instruments needed to close the gender pay gap for women working in the health sector, and that equal pay should be able to be achieved in both public and private sectors within ten years.

Organising services manager Laila Harré says the NZNO submission to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs discussion document on pay equity identifies the greatest obstacle to achieving pay equity as an unwillingness to intervene in the labour market.

“But such intervention is exactly what will be required”, she said.

“Nurses’ relatively low pay is primarily caused by the fact nursing is a 90 percent female profession. Occupational segregation has kept the status and pay of nurses and health care assistants low. Only a direct, determined and co-ordinated onslaught will bring equal pay for nurses and other women workers.”

The submission notes “there are a number of steps that could be taken by Government as an employer and/or funder that would narrow the gender pay gap for health workers now. A willing Government has all the tools it needs”.

“Those who are opposed to pay equity need to know it will be achieved; what is now to be agreed are the mechanisms and timetable.”

Harré says NZNO is keen to engage with Government and employers to work out the details of implementing pay equity.

“We believe the Government must put aside the money to meet pay equity claims from the public sector, separate from normal funding. The process should begin with the top ten female-dominated occupations, and with the state sector. Because of their low pay, a particular focus should be placed on Maori and Pacific women and their usual occupations.

“Pay equity legislation will be needed to extend pay equity to the private sector.

“We urge the Government to commit itself to a timetable for closing the gender pay gap in the public sector and to taking the steps required in the private sector to close the gaps there, within a decade.”

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