The equal pay initiative

Written By: - Date published: 7:04 am, October 22nd, 2015 - 17 comments
Categories: class war, feminism, national, wages, workers' rights - Tags: , , , ,

Here’s a headline to gladden a Leftie’s heart:

Government hailed for equal pay initiative

The Government is winning praise for a move unions hope will lead to equal pay for all working women.

The country’s biggest union, E tu, says it’s “a huge step forward for underpaid workers”, while the Public Service Association describes it as “welcome news”.

Good news, credit where it’s due and so on. But it’s not like the Nats have suddenly been afflicted with a social conscience or anything. As Rachel Smalley puts it:

About time equal pay was addressed

A working group to address the pay-gap between men and women — the government’s hand has been forced on this, but nonetheless, this is progress.

And this came about because of a Court of Appeal decision on pay rates in the aged care sector — a sector that’s predominantly staffed by women — and it found that women could make a claim for pay equity under the Equal Pay act.

Hence the sudden creation of this working group — it means the responsibility for deciding this no longer lies with the courts — because, as you can imagine, this ruling has set a precedent. …

So, kicking and screaming then. In fact, if you want to know what the Nats really think about pay equity, here’s some history:

National destroys hopes for women’s pay equity
CTU media release
13 May 2009

National destroys hopes for women’s pay equity – again

The decision today by the National Party Government to abolish the Department of Labour’s Pay and Employment Equity Unit shows an absolute disregard for the thousands of women workers in this country whose work is undervalued simply because they are women, said CTU President Helen Kelly. This decision destroys hopes that the unfairness in women’s pay will be rectified soon.

“This is the second time that the National Party has rejected pay equity,” said Kelly. “They dumped pay equity legislation as soon as they took office in 1990, and now they have done it again. Both the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Women’s Affairs claim that National has been committed to gender equality since 1972. Their words of support for equal pay for women are utterly hollow.”

The Nats have never been a friend of women.

17 comments on “The equal pay initiative”

  1. RedBaronCV 1

    Somehow I doubt that there will be anything like equal pay out of this. The employment court was going to be setting the rules so they may just have been fair & effective. Instead we get “this” which will no doubt be turned into legislation effectively rendering wins in the courts under the old acts useless.

    and “this” is most likley to be as horrible as “zero” hours legislation, as useless as the obesity campaign, I see the unions have only given it until March next year and I imagine the whole propaganda machine would have been turned on them had they refused and gone with the court. the MSM would have been right into it It’s Nact controlling the agenda for their own benefit.

    NAct will go “here’s what we are going to talk about” to control the agenda and “this what you are going to do”.
    And would some journo do their job and ask the question -” Prime Minister just how does having pay equality conflict with a well functioning labour market. If it’s okay to pay males more and that is well functioning why is it not well functioning if the pay goes to females”

  2. Rosemary McDonald 2

    I’m holding off the celebrations.
    When family carers took their claim for equal pay (with private sector workers doing the same job) to the HRRT, (and won), High Court(and won), the Appeal Court(and , bugger me, won again) the Government set up a Technical Advisory Group for the…

    “Purpose
    The Group’s purpose is to draw on the experience and expertise of members to identify and examine potential ways to resolve the Atkinson & Others v Ministry of Health (payment for family carers) litigation, through informed discussion on a without prejudice basis.”

    Sounds good so far…but further down the Terms Of Reference….


    From the Crown perspective, goals and constraints for the group to consider in discussion of potential ways forward and policy options include:
    • findings of Courts and alignment of ways forward with New Zealand Bill of Rights Act (NZBORA)
    • government’s objective of maintaining fiscal neutrality
    • promotion of inclusion and participation in society and independence of people with disabilities in terms of the objectives of the New Zealand Disability Strategy (New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000)
    • the objectives of the Carers’ Strategy and Five-year Action Plan
    • monitoring and accountability for public funding.”

    and so on. https://www.health.govt.nz/…/tor-technical-advisory-group-family-carers…

    Every single member of the TAG had some degree of financial relationship with the Misery Of Health.

    What we ended up with was this….http://www.parliament.nz/en-nz/pb/legislation/bills/digests/50PLLaw20491/new-zealand-public-health-and-disability-amendment-bill

    legislation described as “breaking the constitution”

    http://pundit.co.nz/content/i-think-national-just-broke-our-constitution

    The govt HAD to come up with something….so they came up with a policy that has been described as “flawed”. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1309/S00304/governments-new-family-carer-payment-flawed-and-unfair.htm

    The legislation was accompanied by a Regulatory Impact Statement that was heavily redacted….http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10884835 …..approximately one third of the text was blanked out.

    The government claimed that they had to enact this legislation because of “fiscal constraints”.

    This document is well worth a read.
    http://www.treasury.govt.nz/government/longterm/externalpanel/pdfs/ltfep-s4-02.pdf

    I wish this project well….sincerely…its hard work, and the shit pay reflects not only on the worker but also on the client….the people being cared for.

    With the family Carers case, what it came down to was ‘is this person entitled, ENTITLED, to funding for the care they have been assessed as needing.’

    The new legislation says….

    “and to affirm the principle that, in the context of the funding of support services, families generally have primary responsibility for the well-being of their family members.”
    http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2013/0022/latest/whole.html#whole

    There were few words from unions during this time, though there was mention that if family were paid…contracted carers would lose their jobs.

    That was, and still is, bullshit.

    There is a chronic shortage of caregivers, and an even greater shortage of carers with sufficient skills to safely care for those with very high and complex needs.

    • Tracey 2.1

      And then there is the retrospective legislation option…

      Wouldn’t be surprised if there is something already drafted…

      Rosemary, I think many wealthy people think that moving into a swanky place like a Ryman’s will make them immune from the lack of carers and lack of quality carers. It won’t. They will come face to face with the irony of their own position, namely that a company does whatever it needs to, to make money and that includes retirement complexes.

  3. Tracey 3

    EXACTLY

    The framing of this by the media has been appalling and inaccurate. They have simply picked up the Government’s press releases and copy and pasted.

    It is the Unions that deserve the praise because they could have just forced the Government to use the court Appeal process and headed them to the Supreme Court.

    The Government has won a delay (something it seems to treasure). One suspects the verdict on the likelihood of success at the Supreme Court was pretty grim reading for this Government.

    • Rosie 3.1

      Speaking of delays. If the findings of the working group are not to our governments tastes (and as made clear on Anthony’s post they do find the idea of pay equity unpalatable) and they employ more delaying tactics what’s to stop a future government, ie, a labour/Green/NZ First government in 2017 picking up where National fail and implementing recommendations from the working group that support pay equity and passing legislation to end pay discrimination?

      The National government may still block any recommendations from the working group that support pay equity but surely a new and progressive government would take it on?
      More delays for women but it has already been a long road and it has to be done right, to do justice to the struggle.

    • Rosemary McDonald 3.2

      “The Government has won a delay (something it seems to treasure). One suspects the verdict on the likelihood of success at the Supreme Court was pretty grim reading for this Government.”

      Exactly what happened with the Family Carers case.

      Some of us begged the government not to take it to the Supreme Court.

      “Talk to us”, we said, “we are reasonable people with reasonable expectations.”

      The case had been going through the process for a decade by then. Some of the family carers were in their seventies. Some died while we waited.

      The ‘discussions’ had all been had during the original HRRT hearing, as exemplified by the Decision. http://www.nzlii.org/nz/cases/NZHRRT/2010/1.html

      Yet, we participated in the “consultation”. What a waste of time.

      The meetings were carefully structured. We watched what the facilitators were writing down on their wee bits of paper….choice, carefully edited snippets that supported the Misery of Health’s narrative.

      In the meantime…the bureaucrats were beavering behind the scenes coming up with the legislation and policy that tossed disability and carer rights well into the margins.

      And effectively removed the entitlement for funded care from those who have family who could support them.

      What happened to us was part of a long term plan.

      • tracey 3.2.1

        I agree with you. This government ha snot shown itself to give a shit about our most vulnerable people or their carers. Why would they suddenly have changed?

  4. Rosie 4

    Yes, this has been some rare good news this week.

    Huge big ups to Kristine Bartlett for standing up and taking the case that eventually led to the decision to set up a working group. You did this Kristine. If there are good outcomes from this working group we should name any future pay equity act the Bartlett law.

    Big ups to her Union, the former SFWU and the lawyer who represented her, Peter Cranney.

    Another great example of the relevance of Unions and how they work for ALL workers, not just their members.

    Kia Kaha women!

  5. Jason Simmons 5

    Women have equal pay to men. It is illegal to pay women less than men. Just because the outcomes of women working means that on average they earn less than men, or that the outcome means that women end up in low paid work. This does not mean that there is pay inequality or sexism within the workforce. This is outcome based thinking, that wants to pursue a manipulation of the labour force to come to a false solution. If men and women in the same situation have the same opportunities (which they do, don’t deny that), then there is no reason for this. You cannot compare an overall statistic to experience of an individual. The left needs to stop doing this because it will ultimately become an easy target for neoliberal attacks, because it is very obviously false to claim that pay discrimination exists as a systemic problem.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      Women in same position as men with the same productivity get paid less than men. This is fact. Everything you spouted was bullshit.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 5.2

      What DtB said: tell the High Court, I’m sure they’ll find your testimony absolutely sorry I fell asleep.

    • Craig H 5.3

      The issue at hand here is not that women are paid less than men for the same job (that’s another issue), it’s that occupations where the workforces are predominantly women are paid less than equivalent occupations with similar educational requirements where the workforces are predominantly men.

    • KJT 5.4

      In my occupation women have the same pay, and probably better opportunities than the men. BUT. It was a male occupation, with few women.

      It is comparable to Nursing, in education and training requirements, and responsibility. Nursing pays about half as much!

      Instances where women, and some men, have lower lifetime incomes because they have taken time off to care for children, families or old people, explains some of the gap. But not all…………

    • Rosemary McDonald 5.5

      A view from the Right….

      http://www.utppublishing.com/Counting-for-Nothing-What-Men-Value-and-What-Women-are-Worth.html?page=1

      Jason Simmons…there may come a time where you depend on the services of a carer. Hopefully it won’t affect your individual experience if your carer, having had to work for 60 hours that week because he can’t support his family on the minimum wage, perforates your bowel or drops you on the floor because he’s so goddamn exhausted.

      Yes…you’re right, he could have chosen a higher paying job.

      But guess what? You NEED him…without him you’d be in the shit.

      Literally.

      Think about this for a bit….

  6. Jason Simmons 6

    Rosemary McDonald:
    You’re not understanding anything I have said. Also, you do realize the architects of the current broken welfare system have all been women (Ruth Richardson, Jenny Shipley, Paula Bennett, Hekia Parata).
    I believe that carers should received sustainable pay rises. This is all good and true.
    But sorry, women aren’t on a short end of a stick in NZ, or any other developed country. It is ridiculous to say so, and is counterproductive to the social democratic cause. It assumes the worst of society, of governments and of people. If you actually want to change the way we live, then you need to have an understanding about the complexities of life for all New Zealanders. It assumes that women are somehow more oppressed than men in the 21st century. It assumes that women are more likely to be discriminated against. Maybe that is true, but trying to manipulate the outcomes of society so that men and women fit neatly into a statistic is stupid. Women may earn 11.8% less than men ON AVERAGE, but it does not mean that they are getting paid for the same work. This is stupid. Different jobs means you are hired by different people.
    Who pays for carers, nurses etc… the government, who loses money paying for this, even if it is seen as a necessity. Who pays for software architects, mechanical engineers, etc… private business, who are willing to pay these people more because they earn more money for their business.

    • KJT 6.1

      Who benefits from a healthy workforce?

      Businesses!

      But they don’t seem to like paying for it.

      Just as they like other taxpayers, and “flexible” employees on less than a living wage, subsidising their businesses.

      • Jason Simmons 6.1.1

        I consider myself a socially liberal social democrat, so don’t assume my political positions as being ‘right-wing’. Anyone who disagrees must be ‘right’wing’. This is the problem with the Left, and I the Left can not see that, then it is doomed.
        Once again, this isn’t a gender discrimination problem. It’s an employee exploitation problem. But they’ve failed under this government to get any changes made to make peoples live easier. So now they are pushing this bullshit discrimination to get any headway, and guess what? You should fail and will fail. Because barking up the wrong tree never solves a problem.

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