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Minister misguided on gender and pay connection

Media release: Pay Equity Challenge Coalition
Wednesday February 20, 2013

Minister misguided on gender and pay connection

Senior Citizens Minister Jo Goodhew needs a better response to pay inequity than to suggest the correlation between gender and low occupational status is 'debatable', the Pay Equity Challenge Coalition said today.

The Health Select Committee has published its response to a petition calling on the Government to properly fund aged care services in New Zealand to ensure better pay and training for caregivers in the sector.

Jo Goodhew is quoted in the report as saying that the strength of correlation between gender and low occupational status is debatable, as more women are now accessing occupations at various levels, and said that over time the gender pay gap will reduce as occupational and vertical segregation does.

“The Minister appears not to have any understanding of the reasons why there is a gender pay gap. There is no evidence to back up her claim that the gender pay gap is reducing due to the occupational status of women changing,” said Angela McLeod, Pay Equity Challenge Coalition spokesperson.

“The gender pay gap has stubbornly sat between 10-13 per cent for the last several years and is not reducing - in fact figures released by the Department of Statistics in February showed it again well over 13 per cent."

“All of the evidence that we have seen shows a very strong relationship between low pay and the concentration of women in the caring sector."

Angela McLeod said that it was unacceptable for the Minister to use the excuse that it costs too much to remedy the low pay issue in the aged care sector.

“We need to start valuing our women workers, especially those that care for our vulnerable elderly.

“Caregivers, who are overwhelmingly women, should be decently and equitably paid for the hard and skilled work they provide and should not be paid less because they are women nor because their work is undervalued.

"We want to see the Government honour its obligations under international human rights conventions, such as CEDAW, to pay women fairly," Angela McLeod said.



Comments from the Minister for Senior Citizens on pay rates, from the Health Select Committee's report, are below.

The minister said the strength of correlation between gender and low occupational status is debatable, as more women are now accessing occupations at various levels, many of which have traditionally been the domain of males. It is believed that over time this will reduce the gender pay gap as occupational and vertical segregation are major contributing factors to women’s lower pay rates. The minister agreed that caregivers should be celebrated, because what they do each day makes a positive difference to the lives of older New Zealanders.

The full report is here (http://payequity.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/annals-petition.pdf), and was in response to a petition by the New Zealand Nurses Organisation and the Service and Food Workers Union.

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