JAN LOGIE: How much longer will women have to wait…
The fight for women’s rights didn’t end when we got the vote. 124 years later, women are still being paid far less than men. It isn’t right, it’s not fair, and it’s not the New Zealand way. Last week I was fighting to do something tangible about it, with my bill on greater transparency between men and women’s wages. The bill would have provided greater evidence with which to fight gender pay discrimination, and made it easier for women to feel comfortable asking for more money. Unfortunately, the National Government all voted against it.
You can watch me speaking up for why we need the Bill here. When the Government voted against my bill, they denied women the right to know if they are being underpaid in the workplace. My member’s bill would have had employers adding gender to their payroll reporting requirements, and allowed employees access to that aggregated information to see if they are being paid fairly. With the gender pay gap stagnating between 12 and 14% percent in New Zealand, we know that we need to do more to see women paid fairly.
It’s time to step up with the solutions to ensure that women do get paid more in this country. When the Government put out their draft Equal Pay Bill, it was a golden opportunity to put in measures like my Bill to help women get paid more. Instead, they have completely redrafted the bill and made it harder for women to get equal pay. It was gutting to hear the National MP vote down my bill because they thought the draft Equal Pay Bill would address the issues.
I have a number of concerns with the Government’s draft Equal Pay Bill. I questioned the Minister about it this week. The Bill was introduced after the Government settled a pay claim with Kristine Bartlett and 55,000 workers from E Tū union who will now get $500million dollars a year more. But now the Government is pulling up the ladder that has helped so many women.
The Bill will trump what decades of women have been fighting for. Instead of what we have now thanks to court rulings - women being able to look outside of their industry for a fair comparison of wages – women will now be restricted to start by looking within the same business. This makes it harder for women to make the case that industries dominated by women, like nurses or learning support workers in schools, are underpaid because they are dominated by women. Only if they show a fair comparison can’t be made will women be able to look outside of that business, firstly to similar businesses, then within the same industry/sector, and finally if all other options have been exhausted, will women be able to look at comparators from a different male-dominated industry/sector.
The drafted bill also only allow women access to employer information once they’ve already proven the merit of their claim to their boss. But women will struggle to do this if they can’t have access to this information. I am concerned that the draft Bill will also make women meet additional historical and labour market criteria in order to prove the initial merit of their.
We can take action to get women paid more, but every step of the way the Government has prioritised reducing fiscal liability over the rights of New Zealand women to a better deal.
Green Party MP Jan Logie is spokesperson for Social Development (inc. Women, Community and Voluntary Sector), State Services, Local Government (inc Civil Defence) and Rainbow Issues.