web analytics
The Standard

Awaiting Equal Pay Case Decision

Written By: - Date published: 6:55 pm, July 1st, 2013 - 10 comments
Categories: Unions, workers' rights - Tags:

Caregiver Kristine Bartlett

Over 30,000 aged care workers and tens of thousands of other low paid women workers are awaiting the decision of the Employment Court in relation to an Equal Pay Case heard this week.

The Court was hearing a case brought by the Service and Food Workers Union, on behalf of $14.32 an hour senior caregiver Kristine Bartlett, alleging that her employer was breaching the Equal Pay Act 1972 by not paying her the rate that a male worker would get for work with the same skills, responsibility and service.

While the Equal Pay Act has been in existence for 41 years, this is the first case that has been taken for a female-intensive workforce and is provoking strong resistance from Kristine’s employer Terranova Homes and Care Limited and Business NZ.

Terranova argued that because it paid its four male caregivers the same pay rates as its 100-plus female caregivers then it was complying with the Equal Pay Act and told the Court it was being picked on and being put to great expense for no reason. It’s lawyer even made the comment that some jobs have always been paid low rates and always would be, but that was not about gender discrimination, simply the market rate that these jobs attracted.

Business NZ argued that a “pandora’s box” would be opened up if the Court agreed that women in female-intensive low-paid sectors, such as caregiving, were allowed to have their wages adjusted upwards to the level of male workers with the same skills, responsibilities and service outside of the female ghetto in which they were employed.

They argued that allowing the courts to set wage rates for workers in female-intensive areas was “returning to the past” and in the modern environment “business was allowed to bargain whatever rate it liked”.

These comments are at the nub of the problem that the Service and Food Workers Union and Nurses Organisation have encountered during the last 15 years in trying to address the abysmal wage rates paid to caregivers in aged care homes, hospitals, dementia units and pyschogeriatric units. The numerous committees, Government inquiries and parliamentary select committee reports have all agree that the women employed in this sector are underpaid but the situation has not changed because the cost of doing so has always been too great.

As Chief Judge Colgan quipped in the Employment Court hearing to a cost argument from Business NZ “cost arguments were made against the abolition of slavery”.

The Equal Pay Case follows on from a successful case that was taken by the Service and Food Workers Union for another group of low paid support workers in the disability support sector to win them the right to be paid the minimum wage for sleepovers.

The disability support sector also suffers from the lack of sufficient government funding, which makes collective bargaining an exercise in the pass-on of paltry increases, rather than a forum to establish the true wage rate for the job. It was only through going to the courts that the SFWU was able to gain the leverage to get the Government into serious bargaining about funding minimum wage payments for on-call work at night. Initially the Government indicated that the cost of doing so was enormous, but a negotiated settlement was concluded, the minimum wage established and the sky did not fall in.

Because of the very weak collective bargaining system in New Zealand, with no right to arbitration, more and more low paid workers are looking to organise around human rights arguments to win them wage increases.

This is the basis of the Living Wage Movement, with its emphasis on the right to a liveable wage for not just directly employed workers, but the tens of thousands who are now employed indirectly by contractors, sub-contractors and labour hire companies. Several city councils have adopted living wage policies and The Warehouse retail group has also picked it up.

But it is also the basis for the increasing use of the courts by low-income workers to seek support for the compliance by employers and the New Zealand Government with international human rights conventions, such as those that apply in the area of gender equity.

While it will be several months before the Employment Court makes its decision about the nature of the Equal Pay Act 1972, pandora’s box has already been opened, the right to a living wage is already on the agenda and human rights claims by low income workers to increase their wage rates and restrain unregulated market forces are on the increase..

10 comments on “Awaiting Equal Pay Case Decision”

  1. weka 1

    Thanks, that’s very informative.

    Business NZ argued that a “pandora’s box” would be opened up if the Court agreed that women in female-intensive low-paid sectors, such as caregiving, were allowed to have their wages adjusted upwards to the level of male workers with the same skills, responsibilities and service outside of the female ghetto in which they were employed.

    They argued that allowing the courts to set wage rates for workers in female-intensive areas was “returning to the past” and in the modern environment “business was allowed to bargain whatever rate it liked”.

    Thanks Business NZ. Really good to know where you stand. Oh, and fuck you, you bunch of selfish, arrogant arseholes. No wonder that so many in NZ are anti-business now.

    • Jilly Bee 1.1

      ‘Thanks Business NZ. Really good to know where you stand. Oh, and fuck you, you bunch of selfish, arrogant arseholes. No wonder that so many in NZ are anti-business now.’

      Hear, hear Weka.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 1.2

      They are so helpful in listing their members. Here is the “Major Companies Group”:

      ACC, AECOM NZ Ltd, ANZ National Bank Ltd, ASB Bank Ltd, Auckland Airport, Ballance Agri-Nutrients Ltd, Bank of New Zealand, BECA, BP New Zealand, Carter Holt Harvey Pulp & Paper, Chapman Tripp, Chevron NZ, Chorus New Zealand Ltd, Contact Energy Ltd, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank AG New Zealand, Downer EDI Works Ltd, Fletcher Building Ltd, Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd, Foodstuffs Group, Fuji Xerox NZ Ltd, Fujitsu NZ Ltd, Fulton Hogan Ltd, Genesis Energy, Gough Group, HSBC, IAG New Zealand Ltd, Industrial Research Ltd, KiwiRail, Landcare Research, Lion, Lyttelton Port Company Ltd, McConnell Group, Meridian Energy Ltd, Methanex NZ Ltd, Microsoft NZ Ltd, Mighty River Power Ltd, New Zealand Steel Ltd, Ngai Tahu Holdings Corporation, NZ Post Ltd, NZ Refining Company Ltd, NZX Ltd, Opus International Consultants Ltd, Orion Health, Pan Pac Forest Products Ltd, Port of Tauranga Ltd, Ports of Auckland Ltd, PricewaterhouseCooper NZ, Progressive Enterprises Ltd, QBE Insurance (International) Ltd, Rio Tinto Alcan NZ Ltd, Sanford Ltd, Shell NZ Ltd, Siemens (NZ) Ltd, Silver Fern Farms Ltd, Skope Industries Ltd, Sky City Entertainment Group Ltd, Solid Energy NZ Ltd, Spotless Services (NZ) Ltd, Sothern Cross Healthcare, Telecom NZ Ltd, Telstraclear Ltd, Thales NZ Ltd, The Warehouse Group Ltd, Todd Corporation, Toyota NZ Ltd, Transfield Services NZ Ltd, Transpower NZ Ltd, Unison Networks Ltd, Vero Insurance NZ Ltd, Vero Insurance NZ Ltd, Vodafone New Zealand, Waterfront Auckland, Wellington Electricity, Westpac NZ Ltd, Z Energy Ltd, Zespri International Ltd.

      Several publicly owned companies in that nest of (I was going to say vipers) vultures. They need to be put on notice that when a pro-New Zealand government is elected, they will either quit the organisation or sack their lawyers.

      PS: I wonder what Stephen Tindall makes of being represented by these scum.

      • CC 1.2.1

        Stephen Tindall was always in bed with rest of the listed scum wasn’t he? Seem to recall that one of his mates resigned from his charity because the Warehouse was so damaging to communities that had the red barns foisted on them.

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead 1.2.1.1

          You are aware that the red sheds are in the process of implementing the living wage, no? Perhaps you should do a little research on other aspects of their employment practices before you rush to judgement.

          • CC 1.2.1.1.1

            And what has that got to do with the “vulture/viper” company that Steven Tindall keeps or that from day one, the bulk of the red barn staff were on less than a living wage?

  2. Kurt 2

    Ah, the article said ” because it paid its 4 male workers the same pay rate as its 100 female workers it was complying with the equal pay act”. Umm, unless I’m high on crack does this not mean the woman ARE getting equal pay????

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 2.1

      No. Did you read the whole article? Just that every news report I’ve seen on this case answers your question, which begs the question: are you a bit challenged?

  3. Yes 3

    If only labour agreed to sort this out when first arose, this is a good case and I support it

  4. Descendant Of Sssmith 4

    It would be interesting to see the historical change in wage rates since the 80’s reforms for male dominated occupations versus female dominated occupations.

    The same again for ethnicity.

    There’s no doubt in my observation at least that females and ethnicities have been most disadvantaged by the neo-liberal environment.

    Nurses, cleaners, and so on versus police, lawyers, freezing workers, etc.

    I’m picking we would see quite a substantial drop for the former initially when things like penal rates were taken away and then a slow rate of rise less than inflation while the latter will show much more steady increases. Even the works with all it’s industrial issues will be more positive than most of the female dominated occupations.

    Forestry and bus driving would be interesting for males.

Links to post

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

1 2 3 8

  • Tragedy must be impetus for better training
    The Police Minister needs to explain why unsworn and inadequately trained custody officers were put in a situation of caring for a medically unwell prisoner on a busy Saturday night, Labour’s Police spokesperson Kelvin Davis says. Commenting on an IPCA… ...
    3 days ago
  • Government must be more transparent on investor state clauses
    The Government must be more transparent around the draft investor state dispute settlements in the TPPA, says David Parker, Labour’s Export Growth and Trade spokesperson. “Labour is pro trade, and is proud of the FTA we negotiated with China, which… ...
    3 days ago
  • Protect university staff and student voices
    The Green Party believes ensuring student and staff representation on university councils is important. National recently passed a law reducing the size of university governance councils while increasing the proportion of the members nominated by, guess who… Steven Joyce. The… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    4 days ago
  • C’mon Nick what’s the truth on the RMA
     “Nick Smith has got to fess up and tell us what is happening to his much vaunted RMA reform, Labour’s Environment spokesperson Megan Woods says.  “With just a day and a half to go before the polls open in Northland,… ...
    4 days ago
  • SSC salaries sink National’s spending spin
    Massive pay rises at the State Services Commission prove National’s claims of clamping down on spending in the public sector are simply fantasy, Labour’s State Services spokesman Kris Faafoi says. “Salaries in this one department are almost $70,000 more than… ...
    4 days ago
  • We can fix Christchurch and keep our assets
    The Christchurch City Council is seeking public feedback on its proposed 10 year plan for Council revenue and spending. This is probably one of the most significant 10 year plans ever to be written by a local council because of… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    4 days ago
  • Epidemic of serious assaults in our prisons
    Labour wants stab proof vests and pepper spray for all corrections officers to keep them safe from the epidemic of serious prison assaults that are occurring around the country’s jails, says Labour’s Corrections Spokesperson Kelvin Davis.  “There have been five… ...
    4 days ago
  • Listen to the locals Hekia!
    Minister Hekia Parata needs to understand what consultation is, Port Hills MP Ruth Dyson says. “It means you have to listen to what people say in their submissions and then be able to demonstrate you have considered their views when… ...
    5 days ago
  • Thanking our caregivers
    Let’s celebrate and thank our caregivers. This week is caregivers’ week. It’s a chance to acknowledge the thousands of women, and occasional other person, who are caring for the elderly and disabled in our country. They hold people’s lives in… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    5 days ago
  • Mana Post shop the best outcome for community
    Labour MP for Mana Kris Faafoi has welcomed the move to place the services from the Mana Post shop to a local small business. “This is the best outcome for the community we could ask for. All the vital services… ...
    5 days ago
  • Labour looks to put the tea back into entitlements
    Labour is moving to restore the rights of Kiwis to take tea and rest breaks, Leader Andrew Little says. “Within months of the Government’s Employment Relations Amendment Bill becoming law we are already seeing some of our largest companies, including… ...
    5 days ago
  • Desperate money grab to keep Ruataniwha afloat
    The Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company’s decision to borrow $4 million to keep the Ruataniwha project afloat is a case of throwing ratepayer’s good money after bad, says Labour’s Water spokesperson Meka Whaitiri and Napier MP Stuart Nash.   “This bridging… ...
    6 days ago
  • Roundup: UN finds it “probably” causes cancer
    At last the UN has spoken out against the widely-used weedkiller Roundup. The UN’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has identified glyphosate, the principle ingredient in Roundup, as a probable carcinogen. They also include as probable carcinogens the insecticides… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    6 days ago
  • Invermay petition delivered to Parliament
    Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson David Clark handed over a 12,450 signature Save Invermay petition to Dunedin South MP Clare Curran on the steps of Parliament today.  “The level of support that the petition has received across New Zealand is overwhelming,”… ...
    6 days ago
  • Redcliffs School closure plan wrong
    The Government’s proposal to consult on the closure of Redcliffs School not only goes against the best geotechnical advice, but more importantly goes against the best educational outcomes for Redcliffs children and the health of our community, Port Hills MP… ...
    6 days ago
  • Cotton On first to test the tea breaks law
    Australian corporate Cotton On, the first major business operating in New Zealand to exploit the new tea breaks law, could walk away from negotiations if it doesn’t get its own way, says Labour Party Labour Relations spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway.  “Cotton… ...
    7 days ago
  • World water day: eight rivers in one day
    Our photo journey started by the Waioweka (also known as Waioeka) River which flows from Te Urewera to Opotiki, and is surrounded by beautiful forest. The water looked great! Kopeopeo Canal It contrasted greatly with the Kopeopeo Canal near Whakatane,… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    7 days ago
  • Council can stop Port’s encroachment on harbour
    As owner of the Port of Auckland, Council can stop the wharf extension and reclamation if it wants to, says Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Goff. ‘As owner the council is custodian of the port and harbour on behalf of… ...
    7 days ago
  • We all benefit when education meets everyone’s needs
    As Dyslexia week comes to a close,  Dyslexia NZ have reminded us that around 10% of our citizens are dyslexic and are entitled to better support. One of their strongest arguments is that failure to provide identification and support for… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    7 days ago
  • State house sell-off fiasco a gift for developers
    The Government’s property developer mates are the only people who can salvage National’s state house sell-off now the Salvation Army has torpedoed the policy, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Having been cynically used by the Government as the poster… ...
    7 days ago
  • National reinforces inequality in schools
    The National Government’s flagship programme Investing in Educational Success is clearly reinforcing inequality in the school system, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “The analysis released today by the NZEI clearly shows schools in wealthier suburbs are the main beneficiaries… ...
    7 days ago
  • Big change starts small
    Today marks Race Relations Day in New Zealand. Race Relations Day coincides with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.  The United Nations General Assembly chose this day as it marks the day in 1960 when 69 peaceful… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Israel, Palestine and the question of statehood
    The knife-edge election in Israel complicates the Middle East situation, even more than usual. The Prime Minister-elect, Binyamin Netanyahu, is moving to form a government. Netanyahu has indicated that, during his term, a Palestinian state would not be established. That… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    1 week ago
  • Christchurch transport goes backwards
    The Green Party has a vision of a liveable, accessible Christchurch with a sense of identity and strong connected communities. Instead, 2013 census figures released by Statistics New Zealand reveal a fractured community, and tell a story of frustrated Christchurch commuters… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    1 week ago
  • Super Fund should divest $140 million in high risk coal
    The Green Party is calling on the New Zealand Super Fund to divest their $140 million investment in coal companies that are vulnerable to becoming financially stranded according to a damning new report from Oxford University. The Smith School of… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Learn to count with Mark Osborne: 0 + 1 = ?
    The adage about the first casualty of war being truth is one that might often be applied to the political battle for hearts and minds, and of course votes. A rather unfortunate example of this has been arriving in the… ...
    GreensBy David Clendon MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Is it still a safety net when the holes are this big?
    Over the last few weeks I’ve been wondering how safe our income support system is for people, especially those with cognitive or learning disabilities. I’ve been trying to support a young man who was severely injured in a workplace accident… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Pasifika – protecting the Pacific needed now more than ever.
    Over the weekend thousands of Aucklanders flocked to celebrate our city’s diverse Pacific communities and cultures at the annual Pasifika festival and the Greens were there to join them. The Pasifika festival has been held every year for 23… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Sounds Stakeholders Seek a Sustainable Future
    It was heartening to see a large number of people who care about the Marlborough Sounds come together at the Marlborough Marine Futures’ forum in Picton on March 8. Fellow Green MP Steffan Browning, who lives in Marlborough, and I… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Solid Energy, who will clean up the mess?
    What can you say? This state-owned coal miner is facing some very serious problems. They haven’t run a profit in years, have required two Government bailouts, laid-off more than 700 staff and look like they need a third injection of… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    3 weeks ago

Removed at the request of The Daily Blog.
Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere