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Closing the pay gap benefits everyone

May 13, 2004

Closing the pay gap benefits everyone

Thirty years after the Equal Pay Act made pay discrimination in New Zealand illegal, women’s pay still lags well behind men’s, creating a lifelong disadvantage affecting family income, life choices, and security in retirement, PSA national secretary Richard Wagstaff said today.

Speaking after the release of the Government’s response to the Pay and Employment Equity Taskforce report, Richard Wagstaff said it was entirely appropriate that the government, as the country’s biggest employer, was taking the lead in fulfilling its responsibility to address the issue of pay and employment equity.

“The government is to be applauded for its boldness in taking what is a significant step towards redressing, within the state sector, inequities for those are who traditionally disadvantaged in pay rates. Once again, New Zealand has shown the way.”

“As the union with over 42,000 members in the public service, health, and wider state sector, the PSA has a particular place in achieving pay and employment equity. The state is the biggest employer of women and historically the PSA has led the way for equal pay.”

Richard Wagstaff said the PSA had begun its own pay and employment equity programme prior to the announcement of the taskforce, had been instrumental in the setting up of the taskforce, and had been significantly involved in its work.

“The PSA is keen to play an ongoing role in any future work on this issue. It is critical that whatever is put in place to close the pay gap works and works well. We will also be looking to ensure that adequate resourcing is available to employers to enable implementation of the necessary processes.

“We look forward to working alongside employers in the public service, health and education sectors in putting these initiatives into action.”

Richard Wagstaff said it was important to stress that pay and employment equity encompassed not only equal pay but also issues such as a living minimum wage and work/life balance.

“The PSA believes that achieving pay and employment equity will have significant consequences including a fairer society and a more dynamic economy – it benefits everyone. It will also make working in the state sector more attractive when pay rates and employment conditions are fair and equitable.”

ENDS

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