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."
"Women in New Zealand are paid on average at least 12 per cent less than men doing the same jobs. In the public sector the gap is as much as 35 per cent. The Government has agreed for example, that female social workers in Child, Youth and Family, are paid 9.5 percent less than male employees doing work of the same level. They have already seen the investigation into this discrimination halted, been told that they cannot have fair pay because it would cost too much, and now the unit charged with monitoring and guiding pay equity in the public sector has been axed."
"This unit has been absolutely core to assisting Government departments, as the largest employers of women in the country, to identify discriminatory employment practices and take steps to eliminate them. These steps have been as simple as making starting rates of pay transparent and allowing flexible hours of work. Without the unit it is likely all these initiatives will stop."
"While this has delivered a blow to women workers today, their determination to achieve equity at work will not be stopped by this or any other government."
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