National has belatedly woken up to the fact that not all Kiwis are middle aged white males, and has been trying to make much of its new found diversity. It showcased supposed star Melissa Lee in the high profile Mt Albert by-election, and has trumpeted that “The Party has 17 women in the top 60”.
But how deep does this commitment to diversity go? Certainly not as deep as pay equity. Far from fostering equity, National have done their very best to deprive half the population of equal pay and conditions. Catherine Woulfe writes in the Sunday Star Times:
Unions are furious at National’s inaction over a new report that exposes the unfair treatment of female principals, teachers and school support staff. The government has kept the report under wraps since the November election but, after months of pressure, it has now promised to release the document “in the near future”.
“It’s more than just being upset,” says NZEI national secretary Paul Goulter. “This is a fundamental walk-away from one of the most basic human rights issues in this country.”
Under Labour, the report had the potential to prompt pay rises for cleaners and support staff, and a fairer system of performance reviews. But earlier this month National announced it had abolished the Department of Labour’s Pay and Employment Equity Unit. This means it is highly unlikely any of the recommendations in the report will be followed up, Goulter says.
How can National’s female MPs tolerate this?