web analytics

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

  • Labour and Greens sign historic agreement to change the Government
    The Labour Party and the Green Party have announced today they have signed an historic agreement to work cooperatively to change the Government. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the parties commits them to working cooperatively to change the Government… ...
    33 mins ago
  • Budget ignores vital role of quality ECE
    Last night I watched a fascinating programme about the Otago University 45 year study of 1000 New Zealanders. It concluded that there are ways to intervene and support people who are at risk of becoming violent. One of the key… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    22 hours ago
  • More ice for Radio NZ in Budget
    Budget 2016 once again left our only public broadcaster, Radio NZ (RNZ), worse off. After eight years of funding freezes, you have to wonder if RNZ is being iced-out for ideological reasons. I believe public broadcasting is an important cornerstone… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    1 day ago
  • Fisheries inquiry must be widened to include Trident
    The Government must widen its inquiry into the Ministry for Primary Industries to include its awarding of a company owned by Sanford and Moana Pacific Fisheries to monitor commercial fishing vessels, Labour’s Fisheries spokesperson Rino Tirikatene says. The Ministry for… ...
    1 day ago
  • Government spend up on state house sell off
    The Government has spent $28.9 million and has 129 officials working on its misguided state house sell-off, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “This is a scandalous waste of taxpayers’ money on a policy that won’t deliver a single extra… ...
    2 days ago
  • Housing crisis has huge impact on education
    The National Government’s failure to get on top of the housing crisis is having a major impact on the quality of education a lot of school kids are getting, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.  “There are thousands of kids… ...
    2 days ago
  • Minister celebrates while arts organisations face cuts
    Maggie Barry was full of self-congratulations for her small arts announcement in the budget, ignoring the pain that a large number of organisations are facing due to her inaction, says Arts, Culture, Heritage spokesperson Jacinda Ardern.  “The Budget delivered a… ...
    2 days ago
  • Regions miss out again in Joyce’s Koru Lounge Fund
      The regions have missed out yet again with Steven Joyce offering just $10m a year for key regional development projects while trumpeting a bunch of re-heated announcements, says Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson David Clark. “The dairy downturn has put… ...
    3 days ago
  • Children’s Commissioner misses out in Budget
      The Office of the Children’s Commissioner has missed out on a much needed boost in this year’s Budget, meaning they will be forced to continue their reduced monitoring role of CYFs residences, says Labour’s spokesperson for Children Jacinda Ardern. … ...
    3 days ago
  • Communities miss out in Budget
    Budget 2017 has left community and NGO providers feeling exposed about the services they provide to vulnerable families especially in smaller towns and communities, says Labour’s Whānau Ora Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta. “Approximately $40m will go into Whānau Ora to work… ...
    4 days ago
  • Budget2016: Two Worlds
    Sometimes I feel as if I live in two worlds. The world created by the National Government where everything is great and they’re doing a great job and the world as seen through the eyes of child advocates, community workers,… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    4 days ago
  • Parekura would be proud – MTS gets boost
    The Labour Party is ecstatic that the Māori Party have shown support for one of Labour’s proudest policies, says Labour’s Māori Broadcasting Spokesperson Peeni Henare.  “The Māori Television Service was launched in 2004 by the late Hon Parekura Horomia. ...
    4 days ago
  • Māori housing in state of emergency
    The Government needs to declare a state of emergency for Māori Housing, says Labour’s Māori Development spokesperson and Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis. “The extra $3 million a year Māori Housing Network fund will not scratch the surface in… ...
    4 days ago
  • State house sell off in disarray after provider pulls out
     The Government should cancel its planned sell-off of state houses after the second big community housing provider pulled out leaving the process in disarray, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “It is time for the Government to back away from… ...
    4 days ago
  • Nothing in Budget to help police to solve crime
    The Police Minister has failed to make communities safer with virtually no new money in yesterday’s Budget for police to address the appalling burglary resolution rates, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Stuart Nash.  “It’s a disgrace there’s no money or aspiration… ...
    4 days ago
  • Blog – Budget 2016: What about ordinary working people?
    Ordinary working New Zealanders don’t fare very well from this Budget. Setting aside the spin from the Government, it contains a lot to be concerned about and a fudging of the numbers. Green Party workplace relations spokesperson Denise Roche For… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    4 days ago
  • Real wages go backwards for next two years
    New Zealanders’ real wages will fall for the next two years as the cost of living outpaces forecast pay rises, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “New Zealanders have been doing it tough for far too long. They expect… ...
    4 days ago
  • The Attack on Public Education – by a thousand cuts
    Budget 2016 is another step towards the free public education system being a memory from the past. The Budget freezes the operations grant for schools and does not sufficiently cover the real increase in numbers of students entering the education system.… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    4 days ago
  • The Attack on Public Education – by a thousand cuts
    Budget 2016 is another step towards the free public education system being a memory from the past. The Budget freezes the operations grant for schools and does not sufficiently cover the real increase in numbers of students entering the education system.… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    4 days ago
  • The give with one hand – take with the other Budget
    The Minister of Health has pumped out media releases to 20 District Health Boards heralding increases in funding for their regions, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King. “But when you add population growth and inflation into the figures you get… ...
    4 days ago
  • Budget offers no hope of fixing housing crisis
    The Budget’s underwhelming housing measures will give New Zealanders no hope that National is capable of fixing the housing crisis, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “There isn’t a scrap of an idea to help desperate young Kiwi families into… ...
    4 days ago
  • How the budget fails new New Zealanders
    Greens co-leader James Shaw was absolutely correct to say the 2016 budget is just papering over the cracks. There’s nothing in this budget to increase wages, address inequal pay for carers or deal with the shocking pay rates and employment… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    5 days ago
  • Parents will pay more as school budgets frozen
    Parents will pay more for their kids’ education as a result of this year’s Budget after the Government froze operational funding for schools, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “This means schools are effectively going backwards. They will need to… ...
    5 days ago
  • Sticking Plaster Budget fails the test
    Bill English’s penultimate Budget fails to tackle the structural challenges facing the economy – a housing crisis, rising unemployment, underfunded health and creaking infrastructure, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “This Budget applies a sticking plaster to a compound fracture.… ...
    5 days ago
  • John Key fails middle New Zealand with no fix for housing crisis, more underfunding of health
    Middle New Zealand has again missed out in this year’s Budget with not a single fix for the housing crisis, and health and education woefully underfunded again, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. “This Budget is just a patchwork… ...
    5 days ago
  • Labour Bill would back Kiwi jobs
    The Government’s $40 billion of buying power would go towards backing Kiwi businesses and jobs under a Labour Member’s Bill which will be debated by Parliament, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. “My Bill – which was pulled from… ...
    5 days ago
  • Julie Anne Genter: My Budget 2016 wish is fairness
    When my parents first visited me in Auckland ten years ago, they remarked on how there were no homeless people on the streets. Coming from Los Angeles, they were used to seeing the impacts of horrendous inequality and a lack… ...
    GreensBy Julie Anne Genter
    5 days ago
  • Steffan Browning: Pesticide reduction and Organic Growth Strategy in Budget 2016
    Pesticide reduction The Budget is an opportunity for the Government to launch a pesticide reduction strategy that multiplies the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) and the Ministry for Primary Industries’ capacity to reassess pesticides and other toxins.  The Agricultural Compounds and… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning
    5 days ago
  • Steffan Browning: Pesticide reduction and Organic Growth Strategy in Budget 2016
    Pesticide reduction The Budget is an opportunity for the Government to launch a pesticide reduction strategy that multiplies the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) and the Ministry for Primary Industries’ capacity to reassess pesticides and other toxins.  The Agricultural Compounds and… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning
    5 days ago
  • Minister won’t fess up on wrong figures
    The Minister of Health was caught out telling porkies in Parliament today when he was asked about the number of people getting access to mental health and addiction services, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King. ...
    6 days ago
  • Budget 2016 and our LGBTQI communities
    LGBTI people make up about a tenth of our population, and our communities face a unique set of needs and challenges. These challenges are caused or exacerbated by discrimination, invisibility and barriers to appropriate support. We have a long way… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    6 days ago
  • Budget 2016 and our LGBTQI communities
    LGBTI people make up about a tenth of our population, and our communities face a unique set of needs and challenges. These challenges are caused or exacerbated by discrimination, invisibility and barriers to appropriate support. We have a long way… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    6 days ago
  • Scrambled announcement policy on the hoof
    Paula Bennett’s scrambled desperate announcement that she will pay homeless people to move to the regions is just the latest evidence of the disarray this Government’s housing policy is in, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. “This is policy… ...
    6 days ago
  • Police Minister admits resolution rates fall short of expectation
    Police Minister Judith Collins has admitted in Parliament current burglary resolution rates are not meeting the expectations of our communities, says Labour’s Police spokesman Stuart Nash “Out of 284 police stations in New Zealand in 2015, 24 stations recorded zero… ...
    6 days ago
  • Mojo Mathers: A better deal for animals in Budget 2016
    Currently we are failing animals in NZ. On the face of it farmed and domestic animals in this country have strong legal protection from abuse, cruelty and neglect. In reality it seems that only the very worst, most extreme cases… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers
    6 days ago
  • Metiria Turei: What we need from Budget 2016
    Every family deserves a warm decent home.  Everyone believes that. This housing crisis is just the latest consequence of a Government who puts the interests of the few wealthy people above the needs of NZ families.  Families are doing it… ...
    GreensBy Metiria Turei
    6 days ago
  • Dairy exports fall of 11%: Budget action on diversification needed
    Dairy exports have fallen 11 per cent compared to this time last year, a fall of almost $1.5b, showing the Government must take clear action on diversifying the economy in tomorrow’s Budget, says Labour’s Trade and Export Growth spokesperson David… ...
    6 days ago
  • Investors driving families out of homes in South and West Auckland
    Investors cashing in on skyrocketing Auckland house prices are driving families out of homes in South and West Auckland and causing homeownership rates in some of our poorest suburbs to plummet, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “New analysis shows… ...
    6 days ago
  • Budget must deliver on paid parental leave
    Budget 2016 must deliver 26 weeks paid parental leave by April 2018 – anything less will be short-changing families, says Labour MP Sue Moroney. “My Bill which is before Parliament this afternoon has majority support and does just that. I… ...
    6 days ago
  • Key’s “brain fart” on tax cuts news to English
    John Key didn’t tell his own Finance Minister he was about to go on radio and announce he wanted $3b of tax cuts, just days after Bill English ruled them out, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “In Parliament today… ...
    1 week ago
  • What I’m looking for in Budget 2016 – A better start for our tamariki
    Ensuring the best start for our tamariki is a priority for me in everything I do. And so in Budget 2016, my first budget as an MP, I looking for the Government to make a real investment in the wellbeing… ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    1 week ago
  • What I’m looking for in Budget 2016 – A better start for our tamariki
    Ensuring the best start for our tamariki is a priority for me in everything I do. And so in Budget 2016, my first budget as an MP, I looking for the Government to make a real investment in the wellbeing… ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    1 week ago
  • Denise Roche: What I’m looking for in Budget 2016 Pt II
    Aotearoa’s new New Zealanders,  come to our country in vulnerable position: – often away from the culture, communities and families they know, sometimes in neighbourhoods without familiar faces and often encountering barriers to employment. With net migration at 50,000+ a… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    1 week ago
  • Equal Pay and Budget 2016
    The last few years we’ve seen equal pay for women flagged as an undefined risk in the budget. This year we should expect to see this, as well as budgeted money to deliver equal pay to caregivers and funding for,… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    1 week ago
  • Equal Pay and Budget 2016
    The last few years we’ve seen equal pay for women flagged as an undefined risk in the budget. This year we should expect to see this, as well as budgeted money to deliver equal pay to caregivers and funding for,… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    1 week ago
  • A great Budget would
    A great Budget would embrace the challenge of our polluted rivers and move the money away from justifying the status quo water rules into cleaning up waterways. A great Budget would take the Ministry for the Environment freshwater budget and… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    1 week ago
  • Budget building materials policy backfires
    On the eve of this year’s Budget official figures show Nick Smith’s Budget 2014 centrepiece to reduce the cost of building materials has backfired, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment officials have spent the… ...
    1 week ago
  • Smarter, Better, Cleaner, Stronger
    This Thursday Bill English will deliver his eighth Budget. Will it continue the trend of previous National budgets, making tertiary education less affordable, putting only token funds into innovation, and subsidising polluters? Budgets aren’t what they used to be. Once… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    1 week ago
  • Govt must come clean on tax cuts in Budget
    National is making a mockery of the Budget process by dangling the promise of tax cuts but failing to include them in the Budget, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “National’s tax cut promises have turned into a farce. One… ...
    1 week ago
  • Grant Robertson Pre-Budget Speech
    Today I want to talk about success. As we know success can come in many different forms, from the fact you all made it here at such an early hour on a Monday, for which I am very grateful, to… ...
    1 week ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere