NZEI lodges court claim over gender-based undervaluation of support workers
16 October 2015
NZEI Te Riu Roa has commenced legal action alleging gender-based undervaluation of support workers at the Ministry of Education.
The claim was lodged with the Employment Relations Authority in Wellington this week, naming the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Education, Peter Hughes, as respondent. NZEI’s co-applicants are education support workers Denise Tetzlaff (Auckland), Kathleen Power (Christchurch) and Mary Jones (Wairarapa).
NZEI National Secretary Paul Goulter said it had been more than six years since an independent job evaluation report by the Pay Equity Commission showed that support workers employed by the Ministry of Education were paid as much as $8 an hour less than a comparable male-dominated job.
“These women have waited long enough. Promises that the pay issue would be dealt with through wage negotiations have come to nothing, so we have no option but to pursue this human rights issue through the courts,” said Mr Goulter.
“Denise, Kathleen and Mary and more than 500 other support workers employed by the ministry provide support for young children in schools and early childhood facilities. They are on the frontline of ensuring some of our most vulnerable children achieve the best possible outcomes, and they have heavy responsibilities in difficult and demanding conditions. But their wage scale starts at $16.04 per hour and rises to a miserable $19.48 per hour after eight years’ service.
“The inequity of wages is growing in New Zealand, and women in ‘caring’ roles are bearing the brunt of this imbalance. Ministry employers should be leading the way in gender equality, not perpetuating injustice.”