Catherine Delahunty

Gender pay discrimination

by Catherine Delahunty

Yesterday’s Herald poll said 65% of women believed that there was discrimination against them at work simply because of their gender. The Employers and Manufacturers Federation (whose former CEO was Alasdair Thompson) have come up with a brilliant solution which no women would ever have considered. They say women should apply for high income jobs!

The EMA is in tune with the Minister of Women’s Affairs who said in response to the poll that women needed career guidance to address this “thing called unconscious bias”. I am picking up a pattern here. Unequal pay is women’s fault due to our lack of confidence and ambition rather than being due to the bias of employers with strange ideas about women’s value and productivity!

Hekia Parata also said that one of the reasons for gender pay inequity was because “women are still the only child bearers”. Very true Hekia, women are still child bearers and this is not likely to change dramatically in the future. But it doesn’t mean women should get paid less!

I met with the Minister of  Women’s Affairs and the Minister of Labour a couple of weeks ago. They won’t support my Equal Pay Amendment Bill because they reckon the law is fine and any one can ring up a Labour Department Inspector and take a case. I asked women workers about this and they told me the following:

  1. Labour Inspectors are rare – there about 12 in NZ
  2. Labour Inspectors don’t deal with systemic issues and have no training in gender pay equity
  3. Women cannot ask a Labour Inspector for help if they don’t have any grounds to ask this and they have no access to workplace pay data to even establish grounds for concern.

So the current law is not working and the Government are not prepared to change it. The Minister shows a bit more interest in the Pay Equity Bill proposed by Judy McGregor but I am not holding my breath for this proposal either.

I am holding some forums on equal pay issues and the first one is in Auckland this Thursday August 4 at the Trades hall at 7pm.

Watch this Green website for more events because we won’t be giving up on this issue until we get some progress!

Published in Environment & Resource Management by Catherine Delahunty on Wed, August 3rd, 2011   

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