Editorials on pay equity

Editorial response to the announcement of an agreement by the Government to substantially increase pay rates for health care workers after a pay equity case that began in 2012 – see Pay equity for health care workers.

ODT: A giant step for womankind

The undervalued work of a group of (predominantly) New Zealand women is about to be rewarded with a substantial and long-overdue pay check. It is likely to be the first of several.

The settlement is the result of caregiver Kristine Bartlett’s 2013 case to the Employment Court (it also went to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court), which found her low hourly pay rate (then $14.32) was a result of gender discrimination under the Equal Pay Act. It reinterpreted the Act as applying to equal pay for work of equal value, not just the same pay for the same work.

Seeing the inevitable snowball effect, and wanting to keep future claims out of court, the Government set up a joint working group comprising government, business and trade union leaders to develop universally applicable pay equity principles (which, once legislation has been passed, will provide the framework for future claims).

More money to women means more money to families and children (and it is likely to be money spent locally). It also means women have more chance to put money towards vital retirement savings and the like. Surely everybody wins?

The message the settlement sends about value (of women, their work and those they look after) reaches far beyond the pay packet. In the changing world of work private businesses will simply have to adapt – especially if their workers now have other options.

Although forced to act, the Government has again stolen the traditional social policy ground of Labour. Its announcement mere months away from the general election may help it cash in on its investment.

Whatever that result, the settlement remains a giant step towards giving some low-paid New Zealand women (and men) the dignity, respect and financial reward they deserve.

NZ Herald: Pay equity’ deal could lift all low incomes

Nobody will begrudge residential carers the big pay increase agreed yesterday between their union, employers and the Government. The carers, predominantly women, provide services to the elderly and disabled that are not always pleasant but need to be performed with patience, compassion, professionalism and a good deal of common sense.

It may be the first time a wage increase has been won on a gender equity argument and the Council of Trade Unions hopes it will be the first of many, in the private sector as well as the public service.

Now that the argument has been accepted for residential carers it will be interesting too how widely it is applied. School support staff are staking their claim next. They, too, are paid from the public purse. It may be much harder to convince industries in the private sector that they should pay more than they need to where women are concerned.

But the scale of the increase awarded to residential carers, even if goes no further than state paid or subsidised services, will be felt across the economy. Private sector employers may have to offer more than the minimum wage to keep female staff who could otherwise find work in rest homes and the like. If the decision starts to lift all low incomes, it will do a great deal of good.

The Press: Aged care settlement an important pay equity milestone

Speaking to RNZ, tax expert and Labour candidate Deborah Russell expected that a flow on effect would lead to pay rises in equivalent private sector work. There has been predictable consternation about the costs to business, so it was pleasing to see that Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett welcomed the pay equity settlement, saying that “the many businesses that do not have a gender pay gap have no reason to be alarmed”.

Other sectors may soon follow. Teacher aides have began mediation talks with the Ministry of Education after a 10 year battle.

In a broader sense, the settlement is about more than whether women are paid the same as men. Some of the workers who benefit from the settlement are paid just $15.75, the statutory minimum wage, despite years of experience. It is about whether New Zealanders are paid enough, full stop.

The settlement does not solve all issues that could be said to fall under the umbrella of pay equity and access to work. There are still barriers to working parents and more attention must be paid to making childcare affordable and easily accessible. Workplaces must become more family-friendly for both men and women.


Leave a comment


  1. Thrilled that these wonderful women ( in the main), have achieved this. I only hope there is not a drop in the services available to care patients if government vm pas Fien on criteria for delivery. This happens periodically and it is devastating to needy elderly.

    • David

       /  19th April 2017

      ” I only hope there is not a drop in the services available to care patients if government vm pas Fien on criteria for delivery”

      Of course there will be a drop in care. Aged care now costs more, that means there will be less of it.

  2. Reply
    • Corky

       /  19th April 2017

      Good ole Andy. Reduced to being a Natz cheerleader. Damn, Natz in the front, Cindy behind.

  3. Blazer

     /  19th April 2017

    National will try and take credit for it,of course,now that the courts have….. ruled.

    • Zedd

       /  19th April 2017

      politics comes to the front again.. BUT aren’t Natz a ‘right-wing party’ ?
      OR really just a ‘any-wing/popular to stay in power’ party ??? 😀

      • The Natz are the designated ‘managers’ of the FIIRE economy … (including its remnant social democracy welfarism) …. their modus operandii is “pragmatic and expedient” with ‘popularity’ being somewhat ahead of legality as the main driver … although I see this issue and Maori representation activities as being ultimately motivated by legality …

        This is a case they couldn’t WIN …

        Now, with the Right Spin, it looks like a case they WON on our behalf …

        • If cannabis “zero tolerance” or any lesser expression of its illegality could be taken to Court in a civil rights or class action and decisively BEATEN … they’d resist like Billy-O but eventually they’d change the law … and thank everybody for the important roles they’d played in the government’s socially progressive legislation …

          All the people who’ve been to prison .. etc

        • Corky

           /  19th April 2017

          Masterful isn’t it, Pati. National are too good for their ‘hicksville’ opposition. You have a simple choice after the budget, ditto election: suck onions or lemons. I don’t care, as long as your lips pucker.

          • The outcome of this indicates clearly that they are acting as both government and opposition Corky … They are mere managers-on-behalf …

            They are their own ‘opposition’ when they need to be … when legality or public opinion makes their ACT position untenable and they must act like Labour … they simply act like Labour …

            I don’t think its masterful … I think its entropic … Its ‘democracy’ winding-down to nothing … to meaninglessness … to plutocratic dictatorship … to inverted totalitarianism … to a vision of nothing other than cost-benefit analysis signifying nothing … with no vision …

            It signifies that anyone who wants progressive change must (very expensively) paint the government into an impossible corner whereby the cost of implementing change becomes less than the cost of losing popularity …

            This ‘carers pay equity’ happens to be a good outcome of ‘the process’ only due to the impossible legality situation … So the government chose not to look like ‘losers’ … Its got bugger-all to do with bettering the conditions of low-paid workers … not from Natz (and employers) POV …

            You screw people until they can actually defeat you for screwing them … and then you make it look like you’re doing them a big favour by changing …

            So you’ll be happy to know my lips pucker regardless … as they always do after vomiting …

    • duperez

       /  19th April 2017

      Take credit for it but ponder their many supporters, initially on the floor in a daze, mustering a full head of anger as they came to that those in poor paid work are to get more pay.

      Some of the reaction clearly shows the wish to have a slave class in New Zealand. The insult of workers doing shit work for shit pay, work they and their off spring wouldn’t countenance doing, getting paid more. It could be that it’s not just that workers somewhere over the class line are getting more but that someone in the land considered that they were worthy of fair treatment, that they were ordinary human beings, not insignificant slaves.”

  4. The neoliberal agenda has been gliding to a halt in neutral for some years …

    Now a hard-won campaign by a small cohort of its perennial ‘losers’ has finally achieved the sensible outcome … they’ve engaged reverse gear …

    It doesn’t need to go fast in reverse … or even very far …

    What next!?

    “Buy New Zealand made” and “Hire a Kiwi” ‘directives’ in the form of advertising campaigns …?

  5. The Government continues to go hard out showing how generous they have been:

    We’re LIVE with Health Minister Jonathan Coleman talking about the 55,000 hard-working New Zealanders getting a share of the $2 billion pay equity settlement – add your questions in the comments below!


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