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The government doesn’t value women in the public service

The government doesn’t value women in the public service

The government doesn’t value women in the public service and isn’t doing enough to address the pay equity problem says the PSA, New Zealand’s largest union representing public and community service workers.

The comment comes on the back of the release of the New Zealand Census of Women’s Participation from the Human Rights Commission.

“The government has shown time and time again that they are not interested in this issue. That they have no plan and no alternative to the pay and employment equity unit which they quickly disbanded,” says Brenda Pilott, PSA National Secretary.

The government got rid of the pay and employment equity unit in 2009 which was originally established to address the pay gap between men and women - a gap which still exists more than 36 years after equal pay legislation was passed.

“It’s more evidence of under-investment in the public service. The fact that 22 government departments have gender pay gaps bigger than the average pay gap across the total labour market tells you how much value the government places on public servants and the work they carry out,” adds Brenda Pilott.

Nine government departments have more than a 20 per cent gender pay gap, with two of those being in the government’s own back yard: Treasury and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The New Zealand Police Force, The New Zealand Defence Force and the Ministry of Defence were all poor performers with the latter offering the following explanation: “The Ministry of Defence does not have gender disparities in starting salaries that are not explainable and justifiable.”

“That’s just not good enough. You need to seriously look at the nature of work, the remuneration, progression and development put in place for women workers to address equity issues - they won’t just go away on their own,” says Brenda Pilott.

The Department of Corrections tops major public service departments implementing equal pay and pay equity, something that the PSA hopes other government departments can learn from.

“If Corrections can address pay equity in a traditionally male-dominated environment then other government departments can too. We need to take the best of what’s working there and employ the strategies elsewhere,” says Brenda Pilott.

Overall, the pay equity gap reduced in the public service but at 1% it’s not something that women in the public service will be celebrating.

“The 1% could reflect a blip – we know there’s a slight rise in the number of women on boards and in CE roles. But the facts speak for themselves. A 1% reduction does not hint at any concerted effort on behalf of the government," adds Brenda Pilott.

Pay equity is still a major concern in New Zealand.


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