Minister needs to deliver for New Zealand women too

CTU media release

8 March 2010

The Council of Trade Unions wants the Minister of Women’s Affairs to mark International Women’s Day by paying more attention to working women in New Zealand. “We are deeply concerned about the current attacks on workers’ rights that will badly impact on women,” said CTU President Helen Kelly.

Commenting yesterday on the Minister’s appearance in New York in support of a streamlined United Nations Gender Equity body, Helen Kelly said that the Minister also has to start considering the impact of some of her Government’s policies on women workers at home. “The Minister must start acting at home as well as proclaiming abroad,” said Kelly.

“We want to see some action by the Minister in three specific areas: firstly, pay equity; secondly, representation of women in decision making; and thirdly the impact of Government policies on working women.”

“The axing by the Government in June last year of the Pay and Employment Equity Unit is blocking progress in implementing pay and employment equity. The closure has removed a carefully established structure that was starting to deliver results. In contrast, the work that Minister Wong is leading is underwhelming, ill considered and doesn’t enjoy support from pay and employment equity experts.”

“The Minister could also focus some attention on the gender composition of the Government’s new policy working groups. All these working groups – on Tax, ACC stocktake, capital infrastructure, the 2025 Task force – have been dominated by men and in some cases contain no women at all.”

“The changes that the Government is signalling in personal grievance procedures, the Holidays Act, and in the review of the vulnerable workers legislation would all impact heavily on women because of their disproportionate representation in certain kinds of work.”

“On International Women’s Day we recognise the achievements that have been gained by and for women by unions and workers. We are now seeing attacks on those hard-earned rights. Today we honour the people who enabled these achievements and commit to defending them.”

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