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52 Organisations Sign Open Letter Demanding Action On Ethnic, Gender And Disability Pay Gaps


A strong coalition of organisations, unions and employers across the country are calling on the Government to take immediate action to close ethnic, gender and disability pay gaps in the workplace.

In support of this call, an open letter (attached) addressed to the Government has been published by Te Kāhui Tika Tangata Human Rights Commission, calling for pay transparency legislation to help close all our pay gaps without delay.

"The cost of living keeps rising, and so does the impact of unfair pay, wage theft, unconscious bias and systemic racism. Tens of thousands of families, especially Māori, Pacific, ethnic minorities, and our disabled communities are struggling to make ends meet,” urged Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo.

According to the latest child poverty statistics released last week, 1 in 9 children live in low-income households that had less than 50% of the median household income. Broken down further, 14.5% of tamariki Māori, 19.5% of Pacific children and 17% disabled children are affected— figures higher than the national average.

“Those who suffer as a result of unjust and unfair pay go beyond workers and into the next generation if we fail to stop it now.”

“We all deserve and want to live with dignity and have the same rights to an adequate standard of living and equal employment opportunity,” added Sumeo.

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The Pacific Pay Gap Inquiry found that in 2021 for every dollar earned by a Pākehā man, Pākehā women were paid just 89 cents. For Māori men that drops to 86 cents and for Māori women 81 cents. For our Pacific whānau, men were paid just 81 cents and Pacific women only 75 cents.

“We all benefit from pay transparency because it helps eliminate gender and racial biases that pay secrecy covers up and addresses structural inequalities.”

“Through pay transparency legislation we can help create a fairer society, where workers are empowered to maximise their abilities, be fairly rewarded for the work they do, thrive in the workplace and live in dignity,” added Sumeo.

Research through our Inquiry provides evidence that racism, unconscious bias, and workplace discriminatory practices are some of the reasons why Pacific workers are being held back from realising their full potential in the workplace.

These drivers of pay gaps undoubtedly affect all workers and exacerbate disparities in pay based on ethnicity, gender, and disability.

“Transparency is a vital step towards closing our pay gaps. From here, we can ensure working people are engaged in the solutions in addressing the pay gaps,” said New Zealand Council of Trade Unions Vice President Rachel Mackintosh.

“When we lift up the lowest paid workers, our whole society benefits,” she added.

“Closing these pay gaps will go a long way to reducing poverty and inequality in Aotearoa New Zealand. With our current cost-of-living crisis, this issue is particularly urgent,” said Komiti Pasefika Co-Convenor Nia Bartley.

Many employers across the country also believe that pay transparency legislation can be a powerful tool to foster a more diverse and inclusive workplace culture where workers feel safe, respected, supported, and can thrive.

Pay transparency requirements will also support the efforts of our employers to ensure equal opportunity, promote diversity, and abide by our laws against unlawful discrimination.

The Commission along with our coalition of allies is calling on all New Zealanders to show their support by signing the open letter and contacting their elected representatives and employers to demand immediate action on pay gaps.

By taking swift action on pay gaps, we are not only doing what is morally right but also honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi and meeting our human rights obligations.

“We cannot wait any longer for change. It's time for concrete action and legislative reforms that will significantly reduce ethnic, gender, and disability pay gaps in Aotearoa New Zealand — it is our legal and moral responsibility to act now,” added Sumeo.

For more information on the Pacific Pay Gap campaign and to sign our open letter, please visit Open Letter: Pass a law requiring all employers to be transparent about pay gaps



A first-of-its-kind research published by the Commission in 2020 provided evidence that unequal pay and pay discrimination was prevalent across the country and the secrecy around pay and career progression exacerbates it.

In February 2022, the Human Rights Commission handed over a 4,141-strong petition to Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood calling for urgent pay transparency legislation.

The Commission proposed that Government set up an independent agency to collect and publish pay information and provide resources for workers and employers to ensure pay equity and equal employment opportunities.

The Pacific Pay Gap (PPG) Inquiry was conducted between August 2021 and July 2022 and engaged approximately 1,200 individuals, including Pacific workers, employers, and union members.

The PPG Inquiry identified gaps in legislation and policies, a lack of leadership visibility from businesses and a culture of indifference towards pay inequality based on ethnicity that has allowed unfairness, discrimination, and hardship to persist in the lives of Pacific workers.

Our Inquiry report to Government in October 2022 includes a range of recommendations, calling for urgent pay transparency legislation, increasing the minimum wage to a living wage, and broadening the prohibited grounds for pay discrimination in the Equal Pay Act to include ethnicity and disability.

The full report is available on our website here or the executive summary here.

PPG Inquiry Report’s top recommendations to Government

  • Urgently introduce pay transparency legislation.
  • Raise the minimum wage to the same level as the living wage to ensure that increases over time remain adequate to meet people’s living costs. Ensure that, as the living wage increases, the minimum wage increases at the same rate.
  • Amend the Equal Pay Act 1972 to expand prohibited grounds to also include ethnicity and disability.
  • Establish a national pay equity taskforce to ensure Pacific, Māori and ethnic pay gaps are closed by 2042.
  • Implement the recommendations of the Tripartite Working Group on Better Protections for Contractors.
  • Ratify the International Labour Organization (ILO) 190 Violence and Harassment Convention (2019).

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