National better late than never on pay equity

Written By: - Date published: 8:04 am, November 26th, 2016 - 4 comments
Categories: class war, feminism, national, Unions, wages, workers' rights - Tags: , , , , ,

One of the first acts of the new National government in 2009 was to abolish the Department of Labour’s Pay and Employment Equity Unit.

Surprise surprise, the gender pay gap started increasing, in January 2016 it was the “worst it’s been in almost 10 years”.

In 2015 a court decision forced the government’s hand (that’s an archive link, the original link is dead, my post at the time), and they set up a working group to look at pay equity. That group has reported back:

Government agrees on ‘landmark’ recommendations to address gender pay gap in workforce

Women will be able to file complaints over pay equality with their employers, rather than the courts, following a Government decision to back the recommendations of an expert panel.

It has been described as a “landmark” win by unions, which have applauded the decision.

The Government set up a working group more than a year ago, to address the pay gap between men and women. It’s work ran parallel to negotiations with unions over pay rates for caregivers. It delivered its recommendations to Cabinet earlier this year, and the Government has agreed to all 21 recommendations. …

This is excellent news, and a big win for women and for unions. Credit where it is due to the government for finally acting. But let’s not pretend, as Audrey Young desperately does, that it’s because the Nats are such lovely people and Bill English is a “compassionate conservative” with “social justice credentials” (yeah right).

National made it’s attitude to equity clear in 2009, here its hand was forced by a decision fought al the way to the supreme court. To be fair Young does go in to the legal history, and suggests that National acted in part because:

Letting the courts determine the final law on such an important issue would have been an abrogation of a Government’s responsibility.

More like a risk that National wanted to avoid. Finally:

There is a chance that the move will give women false hope that they will get a pay rise, as long as they are doing women’s work which is undervalued.

The legislation has not yet been unveiled but it is guaranteed not to be that simple.

A lot of people will be watching with great interest.

4 comments on “National better late than never on pay equity”

  1. mosa 1

    Great decision for fairness and the recognition of decent or at least a living wage for woman.

    The unions and their members have done all the heavy lifting here and that should be acknowledged with the passage of this law when that actually happens and the shape of that legislation when it comes before parliament.

    I hope this fourth term government does not backtrack on this as it will want to safeguard their business friends and supporters.

    • Robertina 1.1

      A lot of money for increased wages will come from the Govt itself as funder, as many but certainly not all of the affected sectors are publicly funded.
      That’s why the Govt is directly involved in settling the aged care and support workers case. It’s going to mean a big funding increase for that sector.
      What’s likely is they will make the arbitration system hard to navigate in order to limit future settlements.
      Cleaners are likely to be a focus when the system comes in, and that will have big private sector impact and push-back.

  2. Incognito 2

    Old attitudes never die.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/86903016/key-says-a-genderbalanced-cabinet-was-a-stupid-idea

    John Key said this about the current crop of female Cabinet Ministers:

    they are there because they’re immensely talented

    The subtext to this is that there are no other talented women; the female talent pool is very small.

    Women have as much talent as men, if not more, so there must be other reasons for the current situation. Obviously, these reasons are all stupid!

    Note that John Key’s condemning language recently has become stronger and more explicit but that he uses very simple basic terms.

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