Look in the archives

Paula Bennett. New Zealand Herald picture

LETTER

Isn’t it wonderful that our employers will start to play fair just because Paula Bennett, Minister of Women’s Affairs, says they should. I’m not sure this is the right approach and being indignant may not resolve the issues.

Ms Bennett challenges private businesses to conduct gender audits. She is right when she says there is bias against women and there is a need to challenge attitudes. However, this is not a new problem and the matter was cast aside by National twice.

The Pay Equity Act 1990 was repealed in 1990 when National became government. This was further aggravated in 1991 when industry awards were discarded under the Employment Contracts Act. Collective bargaining was discouraged, so many women were unable to advocate on their own behalves when overlooked for promotion or offered less wages under “secret” individual agreements.

I worked at the Department of Labour in the 2000s and a lot of resources went into the pay inequity problem at that time too. Full investigations and audits were done on gender bias, together with comparisons of pay in comparative jobs, eg nurses v police, and into why some low-paid jobs like caregiving are dominated by women.

Again, one of the first actions of the new 2008 National government was to sideline those years of research.

Not a lot has changed in many workplaces and women are still being paid 88 percent of what a man is paid.

If Ms Bennett is serious, perhaps she can ask her staff to look in the archives and resurrect the huge amount of research and policy development which was ignored at birth of those times by National.

Mary-Ann de Kort

Isn’t it wonderful that our employers will start to play fair just because Paula Bennett, Minister of Women’s Affairs, says they should. I’m not sure this is the right approach and being indignant may not resolve the issues.

Ms Bennett challenges private businesses to conduct gender audits. She is right when she says there is bias against women and there is a need to challenge attitudes. However, this is not a new problem and the matter was cast aside by National twice.

The Pay Equity Act 1990 was repealed in 1990 when National became government. This was further aggravated in 1991 when industry awards were discarded under the Employment Contracts Act. Collective bargaining was discouraged, so many women were unable to advocate on their own behalves when overlooked for promotion or offered less wages under “secret” individual agreements.

I worked at the Department of Labour in the 2000s and a lot of resources went into the pay inequity problem at that time too. Full investigations and audits were done on gender bias, together with comparisons of pay in comparative jobs, eg nurses v police, and into why some low-paid jobs like caregiving are dominated by women.

Again, one of the first actions of the new 2008 National government was to sideline those years of research.

Not a lot has changed in many workplaces and women are still being paid 88 percent of what a man is paid.

If Ms Bennett is serious, perhaps she can ask her staff to look in the archives and resurrect the huge amount of research and policy development which was ignored at birth of those times by National.

Mary-Ann de Kort

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lloyd gretton - 2 months ago
I recall a case of employment which might help to explain why men have the edge salary wise. A woman employee simply refused to do or even start very difficult work despite the wording in the employment contract. So the work was given to me instead. The company would not put her on the street but would have no scruples about me for breaking the contract. I gamely struggled on with her designated work. She once got a few negative comments about my work that she had refused to do. She then spent the rest of the year bad mouthing me and at end of year her contract was renewed and mine was not. I didn't say anything to her because I could not bear to have her sulk to me for the next month. The work she was designated to do she was more qualified in than me. She refused to do it because it was difficult and as a woman she could get away with it.

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