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Still a significant gender pay gap – targets needed

Still a significant gender pay gap – targets needed

The Pay Equity Challenge Coalition supports the call from the Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO) Commissioner, Dr Jackie Blue, for targets to close gender and ethnic pay gaps. In the past two years there has been no change in the public sector gender pay gap in the 29 core government departments.

The gender pay gap in the public is now 14.3 % - higher than for the whole workforce which is at 12.8%. It is simply unacceptable for there to be such a difference in pay based on gender.

“We support the EEO Commissioner’s call and believe it is time for all political parties to step up and state their commitment to pay and employment equality in New Zealand. If political parties are serious about addressing the gender pay gap they have to commit resources and be willing to show leadership and willpower on the gender pay gap. The Pay Equity Challenge Coalition is writing to all political parties to ask their policies to reduce the gender pay gap.” Said Angela McLeod, spokesperson for the Pay Equity Challenge Coalition.

“It is our understanding that part of the of the reason for the very large gaps in some government departments is due to the “contracting out” of employment such as school support staff and cleaners. These workforces, which are female dominated, are on very low rates of pay. Targets must include contracted staff too.” McLeod said.

“What this illustrates is that without structured support for the state sector, which was formerly provided by a Unit based in the Department of Labour, it is virtually impossible to get action in public sector workplaces to eliminate pay and employment inequities. Genuine leadership, a programme of action and understanding of the underlying causes are all essential in making progress. The public sector, which was has been a leader in reducing the gender pay gap, now lags behind. Government departments should be, and can be, setting an example.“ McLeod said.

“The lack of any commitment to equal pay is pushing low paid workers in the aged care sector to take legal action. Last year the Employment Court ruled in favour of Lower Hutt caregiver Kristine Bartlett, who argued her pay rate of $14.32 an hour was a result of gender discrimination under the Equal Pay Act. That case is now being appealed. The outcome of this case will be significant in determining future action on pay and employment equity in New Zealand.” McLeod said.

“Legislation for pay equity for men and women was passed in 1960 for the public sector and in 1972 for the rest of the labour market, in compliance with international conventions. Annual monitoring since then has shown that progress is made on closing the pay gaps only when government shows leadership on this issue and takes proactive policy action. This has not been the case under the present government, which in 2009 disestablished the Pay & Employment Equity Unit and its programme of state sector pay reviews.” McLeod said.


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