Members of the Tertiary Education Union (TEU) will be making some noise about equal pay next week. Make sure you know what’s happening in your area.
The Equal Pay Week of Action starts on Saturday with events in Wellington, Whangarei, Auckland and Palmerston North.
Over the course of the week events will also be taking place in Hamilton, Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin.
“The Equal Pay Week of Action will be a great opportunity to tell MPs ahead of the September election that equal pay is an issue that we as Kiwis want fixed,” Suzanne McNabb, the TEU’s national women’s officer, said.
The week of action follows in the wake of National Party efforts to change the law to make equal pay harder to achieve.
A proposed amendment to the Equal Pay Act 1972, which would place serious obstacles in the way of women making claims to achieve genuine equal pay, was debated in Parliament on Tuesday.
Whilst it is acknowledged that an update to equal pay legislation is needed, National’s Employment (Pay Equity and Equal Pay) Bill does not deliver on the pay equity Principles a Joint Working Group of government, business and unions agreed last year.
The purpose of the Principles was to guide future pay equity negotiations, providing a better process and pathway to equal pay.
One of the main problems with National’s proposed legislation is that restricts the number of “comparator” roles that can be used to determine the correct level of pay for women.
To assess whether women in predominantly female jobs are paid equally, it is necessary to select appropriate male comparators.
This means identifying jobs to which a similar value can be attributed using gender neutral criteria. The equal pay rate should be then set to the same rate as the comparators’ pay if the assessment shows the jobs to be of equal value.
Rather than allow women to select the most appropriate comparator for their particular role, the law National has tabled would restrict how comparators can be chosen and agreed.
The legislation also creates onerous requirements for women to prove merit in order to initiate a pay equity claim.
“Placing these restrictions on women will simply enshrine into law discriminatory wage rates for thousands of women. What we need is a government that will bring a new Bill to Parliament that is consistent with agreed joint Principles and will achieve genuine equal pay,” McNabb added.