A Gender Pay Gap in New Zealand?
Yes, even today, when men receive a $20 note women receive 12% less and their portion is only $17.60.
So why was the Pay and Employment Equity Unit disestablished on 30th June 2009 well before equity existed between our male and female counterparts?
This is one of the issues that BPW organisations are addressing in the USA, Australia and Germany and our local BPW Whangarei members are no exception. Their yellow banner and red bags could be seen fluttering in the Cameron St Mall on Friday as they set about raising awareness of the gender pay gap in support of the pay Equity Coalition which is chaired by Angela McLeod, president of BPW New Zealand.
“We have come long way from the days when women salespeople were paid more for selling men’s clothes than they were paid for selling women’s clothes in the same department store,” says BPW Whangarei’s Vice President Noell de Zoete, “but we are not there yet.”
ACTION for Red Bag Day 2017 (Equal Pay Day)
Equal Pay Day marks the period of extra days in the current year which women need to work to achieve the same wages that men earned during the previous financial year. The day recognises how much longer women have to work to earn the same as men in one year. It is marked in many countries around the world and the day varies depending on the gender pay gap in any particular country.
In New Zealand for women to earn the same amount that men did in the twelve months of 2016 they need to keep working until February 17th in 2017!
New Zealand’s legislative framework prohibits pay discrimination through the Equal Pay Act 1972, the Employment Relations Act 2000, and the Human Rights Act 1993. However, until 2014 the Equal Pay Act was not challenged. The 28th October 2014 ruling of the Court of Appeal to dismiss the Appeal against the Decision in the Terra Nova Homes and Care Limited v Service & Food Workers Union Nga Ringa Total Incorporated case opened the possibility that the legislative framework can be used to counter structural gender pay discrimination and led to the setting up on a Joint Working Group to establish the principles underlying the Equal Pay Act 1972.
We are still waiting for the government’s response to the recommendations from the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity Principles chaired by Dame Patsy Reddy. The hope is that those recommendations will be accepted in full and the way cleared for some long-awaited pay increases for women in industries where there has been structural discrimination (like caregiving and cleaning).
Do share the importance of these recommendations as it has taken 44 years since the Equal Pay Act in 1972 to have some working guidelines. And they haven’t been accepted yet!
The gender pay gap is right in our headlights and we work to decrease that through our Red Bag initiatives, our submissions to select committees and the focussed work done by the Pay Equity Coalitions of Auckland and Wellington of which we are a part.
In February, our hope is that ALL our BPW clubs will be recognising Red Bag Day and raising community awareness on the pay gap. In Wellington we will be organising a march on Parliament and it won’t be winding back the clock; it will be telling this government we have waited long enough and the legislation to help put equal pay in place is urgently needed. We will work with the Unions and the other NGO’s and invite them to join us so we have one strong united voice in this call to action.
If any of you would care to join us, please let us know as BPW Wellington would welcome your support. It will be a very RED DAY. Red Bag Day 2017