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'Work for Free Day' Resonates w Education workers

Media Release
November 18th, 2009
From NZEI Te Riu Roa
For Immediate Use

‘Work for Free Day’ Resonates With Low Paid Education Workers

Work for Free Day is being marked today and the education sector union NZEI says it should serve to highlight the government’s continued efforts to undermine the value of women’s work.

The Pay Equity Challenge Coalition says the 18th November is 88% of the way through the year. Taking the 12% hourly earnings pay gap into account, that means women are effectively working for free for 12% of the year.

NZEI says pay inequity affects thousands of low paid frontline education workers who are an almost entirely female workforce.

A pay investigation into Ministry of Education support workers who work with special needs children, showed they should be paid an extra $8 an hour, when their work was compared to a male dominated occupation requiring similar skills.

“That translates to a pay gap of between 22-38% for this group of workers and means experienced support workers have effectively worked for free since October 13. Yet the government still refuses to negotiate fair pay rates for them,” says NZEI National Secretary Paul Goulter.

The government has also refused to set up a pay investigation for low paid school support staff, and this month tossed out a 15,000 signature petition calling on pay equity reviews to be reinstated and for action to be taken to close the gender pay gap.

Paul Goulter says “NZEI is deeply concerned about the undervaluing of our members’ important work at the frontline of education. This undervalues not only our members, but shows scant regard for the education of the children they work with.”

“It’s important to highlight through action such as Work For Free Day, that the gender pay gap is alive and kicking and there appears to be a campaign by this government to undermine and undervalue the rights of women workers.”


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