National has shown today tactically how it is going to deal with Jacinda Ardern. In Parliament three of its female MPs, Amy Adams and Nikki Kaye and Judith Collins all unloaded on Jacinda and tried to suggest that she and Labour are not interested in pay equity.
From the Herald:
National says it is “sad” the Jacinda Ardern-led government has so quickly dropped gender pay equity legislation.
But Labour has hit back, saying the previous administration’s legislation “was deliberately designed to put barriers in the way of women who wish to make a pay equity claim”.
Nikki Kaye, Amy Adams and Judith Collins were all critical of the decision today to drop the legislation.
“I think it is a very sad day that one of the first actions of our woman Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is to remove this piece of legislation from the motion that we have before us,” Kaye said in Parliament.
“And there have been comments made regarding the lack of females in the executive and I just think we should reflect on that.”
Labour has rubbished the claim. Again from the Herald:
Labour later released a statement heavily critical of the Employment (Pay Equity and Equal Pay) Bill introduced to Parliament in July.
“All three Government parties were clear during the Bill’s first reading that we were opposed to the legislation, and that we would not rest until New Zealand workers have genuine opportunities for pay equity,” Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety Iain Lees-Galloway said in the statement.
“While both sides of the House seemed united in lauding the TerraNova decision in favour of care and support workers and Kristine Bartlett, the previous Government immediately introduced legislation that fundamentally changed the ability of anyone else to achieve the same result.
“The current legislation diminishes the opportunity for people to make a pay equity claim, and we were clear that if we were elected then it would be the end of the line for this Bill. We were, and it is.
“The Government will stop progress on the Employment (Equal Pay and Pay Equity) Bill and start work on new legislation that adheres to all the principles of the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity.”
And the TEU is happy with the scrapping of National’s bill. Suzanne McNabb at the TEU has said this:
We congratulate the government on taking action so promptly on their commitment to equal pay for work of equal value. National introduced the Bill knowing it would make it more difficult for women to achieve equal pay and ever since working people have been standing together to demand better”.
The basic problem with the bill was that it was a lemon. It replaced retrospectively the Equal Pay Act 1972. Old claims if they survived would have to be under the new rules. And the process for establishing a claim was made really complex. Professional economic analysis would have been required, the Act only applied to industries with more than 66% of its workforce performing particular work being female, and the assessment process relied on identifying appropriate comparators. There was a hierachy of these, the effect of which would have been that male workers in the same industry would have been preferred. For instance rest home gardeners would have been the initial male comparators for female rest home care workers. The process would have often trapped comparison claims to other jobs within industries that are poorly paid.
So more complex rules, and the proposed comparison process would be dumbed down with the prospect that it would have been industry specific. This was exactly the problem identified in the Kristine Bartlett case.
And if you want to see why Jacinda’s speech in Parliament when National’s pay equity legislation gives all the justification you need to see.