On Monday, I was privileged to spend the day in the Employment Court with this wonderful woman, Kristine Bartlett. After 20 years as a caregiver, Kristine is challenging her pay rate of $14.32 under the Equal Pay Act because she says she is being paid less than she would be if she was working in a male-dominated industry.
There was a crowd of caregivers at the court to support her, because this case is not just about Kristine it’s about all caregivers.
Labour and the Greens were both there because we recognise how fundamental this case is.
It was great to see other underpaid and undervalued women being given a voice in the Campbell Live story.
Prue Hyman, an expert witness and long-time campaigner for equal pay. Undervaluing traditional women’s work is at the core of the gender pay gap. This court hearing is a chance to change this. No wonder they’re looking so excited.
The court was full of women (and SFWU organiser Alastair Duncan) reminding the judges of what this case is all about – highly skilled women living on or below the breadline.
Judges hearing evidence from Kristine’s lawyer, Peter Cranney. The court is only ruling on whether it is possible to present a case of “equal pay for work of equal value” under the Equal Pay Act. In other words, the court must use the Equal Pay Act to decide, if aged care were a male dominated occupation, whether workers would be paid the same.
On Monday at least, it was looking pretty hopeful with such compelling arguments. To paraphrase Peter though this case isn’t about enabling women to fly it’s just about trying to help them out of the basement and onto the ground floor. This will be just the first step though.
At the end of a long day the Nurses Organisation presented Kristine with messages of support from members from all around New Zealand.