From Tuesday 29 September, Pasifika women across Aotearoa effectively began working for free until the end of the year because of gender pay imbalances between men and women of different ethnicities.

The gender pay gap between Pasifika women and Pākehā men in the average wage is 25.4%. From 29 September there is 25.4% of the year left, so effectively Pasifika women are now working for free until the end of the year.

Gender equality is a fundamental human right. Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women is integral to TEU, and our union’s vision. Recent media reports have painted a sobering picture of women in the workforce in Aotearoa, and with the median income of Pasifika peoples the lowest against other ethnic groups, the situation is even more pronounced for Pasifika women.

In the tertiary education sector, research out of the University of Auckland found Pasifika staff are underrepresented in senior roles, and overrepresented in lower, less secure levels of the academy. The research also found that Pasifika women are making up the lower ranks within academic positions while Pasifika men are occupying the higher ranks.

TEU Tangata Pasifika Advisory Network member Maria Meredith says the fact that Pasifika women are now effectively working for free for the remainder of the year signals a failure in our society and within tertiary education institutions to address both pay inequality and racial discrimination,

“There is something fundamentally wrong with a system that sees such stark pay inequality across both gender and ethnicity. We have a good understanding of the issues facing Pasifika peoples across, for example, health and education. But too often professionals working in our communities are not representative of the people they serve. Research findings from the tertiary education sector indicates the gender pay disparity is worse for Pasifika women”.

According to TEU Te Pou Whirinaki | Women's Officer Sarah Proctor-Thomson, raising awareness of the gender pay gap provides further opportunity to consider how we can use our vote in the General Election to advance gender equality,

“Our TEU General Election pledge calls for support in paying the Living Wage to all tertiary education staff as the minimum rate, addressing inequality in the tertiary education sector by requiring all investment plans to include equity implementation plans for Pasifika, Māori and women staff and learners, and ensuring there is funding to achieve these plans. It’s important TEU members use this General Election to make their voice heard in support of addressing the gender pay gap”.

Take the TEU General Election Pledge to vote for tertiary education in 2020.