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Images & Report: 'Equal Pay Day' Picnic at Parliament

'Equal Pay Day' Picnic at Parliament

Union members, MPs, members of the public and school children gathered on Parliament's lawn on Tuesday lunchtime for a picnic marking 'Equal Pay Day' and celebrating support for equal pay from MPs across all the political parties in Parliament.

Since women in New Zealand are paid 14% less than men on average, the campaign argues that from 10 November until the end of the year women are working for free.

Speakers from unions and from across Parliament and agreed that the gender wage gap was unacceptable, though there was partisan dispute about how much parties had done to deal with it.

Apples were available (whole for women and cut to 86% size for men) as well as coffee (at pay-gaps reversing prices, with the difference donated to charity).

NZNO Industrial Services Manager Cee Payne cited recent quotes on the value of women from Melbourne Cup winning Jockey Michelle Payne (saying people who don't think women are good enough can "get stuffed") and new Canadian Prime Minister on his gender-balanced cabinet ("Because it's 2015"). She also credited those involved in the recent court cases over low pay in jobs done by women.

PSA delegate Virginia Wilton said equal pay was a step towards a fairer and more equitable society.

Minister for Women Louise Upston said until women had equal rights and opportunities "we've got a lot of work to do'. She had encouraged employers to actually run the numbers and check whether they had a gender pay gap. She was proud to be part of the Government/union/employer pay equity working group.

The Greens' Jan Logie noted that after 175 years, and 55 years since equal pay for the public service was made law, we still don't have equal pay because no government had committed to a plan. She criticized National for blocking a motion committing to pay equity.

Labour's Iain Lees-Galloway with 84% of an apple (Photo by Huia Welton - More photos via NZNO on Facebook)

Labour's Sue Moroney noted the presence of Labour Leader Andrew Little and Labour Issues Spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway, "the two men who will make this happen". She criticized National for repealing the pay equity act and only working on getting more women in male-dominated industries.

Aged care worker and E Tū delgate Marrianne Bishop talked about the value of her work.

Tracey Martin from NZ First acknowledged the men at the rally (though a number of male MPs had just left). She suggest employer should try looking their female employees in the eye "and tell them why you pay them less". Other suggestions included taking names off CVs, advertising pay for jobs, and hold a women's strike at Parliament.

The Maori Party's Marama Fox said her skills as a mother of nine children were transferrable, citing arguments in Parliament as an example. She emphasized in the context of the gender pay gap that being a woman and Maori was 'double jeopardy. Have started by saying "If that's the way women protest maybe we need a bit of a rark-up" she led the crowd in chants of "no more excuses" and "it's not the gender, it's the job".

Angela McLeod of the Pay Equity Coalition said it was about valuing women and their contribution. She noted Goldman Sachs had said closing the pay gap could increase GDP by 10%.


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