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Government Turns The Clock Back On Women’s Rights

Media Release February 20th, 2009
From NZEI Te Riu Roa For immediate use

Government Turns The Clock Back On Women’s Rights

The government has turned the clock back on women’s rights in the workplace by halting all further work on pay equity investigations, and imposing what amounts to a blanket wage freeze, according to the education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa.

In its Expectations for Pay and Employment Conditions in the State Sector, the State Services Minister Tony Ryall is discontinuing two investigations which looked to address the pay gap between men and women in the public sector.

One of the investigations involved thousands of Ministry of Education support workers who work with special needs children. They are very low paid, with many earning just slightly above the minimum wage, and are an almost completely feminised workforce.

Their union NZEI says a two year pay investigation has found they are significantly underpaid in terms of their skills, responsibilities and the demands of their jobs.

NZEI National Secretary Paul Goulter says it is clear that these workers will be the victims of this policy and the identified wage improvements they deserve will not be delivered.

“How can the government claim that its overarching policy for employment and workplace relations is based on good faith, natural justice, human rights and good employer practice? This latest announcement is completely at odds with that and tramples over the rights of women and the low paid,” he says.

In telling the state sector that it must show restraint when considering pay increases, it is effectively imposing a wage freeze.

“This has huge implications for thousands of low paid workers who are struggling to make ends meet and we know that in such a complicated labour market, such blanket policies are destined to fail,” says Mr Goulter.


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