What is Pay Equity?
- Pay equity is about equal pay for work of equal value.
- Women have historically been employed in a limited range of occupations, where the tasks and skills required are seen as an extension of traditional unpaid work of women.
- “Women’s work” has historically been underpaid because our work is not valued as highly as work predominantly performed by men.
- Midwives have been underpaid and undervalued because they are almost all women and they were seen as a sub-set of nurses, who also suffer from historical undervaluing.
- Despite the 1990 Nurses Amendment Act where midwifery was recognised as an autonomous profession, employed midwives’ pay has been linked to that of nurses through DHBs’ wage fixing mechanisms.
- MERAS has challenged this in successive bargaining for the DHBs’ MECA. However, in June 2018, MERAS lodged a claim for pay equity with the DHBs.
- The MERAS Pay Equity claim was accepted by the DHBs and a process is underway with the DHBs and NZNO to evaluate the work of midwives and that of occupations that are predominantly male-dominated produce the evidence that midwives have indeed been underpaid.
MERAS and NZNO pay equity oversight
As well as the DHBs’ pay equity team and MERAS and NZNO officials, each union has workplace representatives on an oversight group that meets monthly to provide input into the pay equity process.
New equal pay law will help fix the gender pay imbalance – NZCTU Media Release 24 July 2020
Creating a more equal society and addressing systemic sexism and discrimination in the workplace has always been the goal of the union movement. “The cause of the gender pay imbalance, which has resulted in a system where employers pay women less than men, needs a multi-faceted approach to fix. The passing last night of The Equal Pay Amendment Act has secured a sustainable and practical way forward to provide an effective process for achieving equal pay for women,” CTU President Richard Wagstaff said.
“Working women have been campaigning to equalise the gender pay imbalance for decades. The passing of new equal pay law today provides structure and support in fixing the systemic problem of paying women less because of their gender.”
“When people come together in union to solve an issue they are more powerful and effective than when facing the issue alone. Collectivism is a fundamental principle of the union movement and this is why collective bargaining is always part of our solution. Ensuring that people wanting to take a collective equal pay claims are supported by unions is consistent with the mahi that unions do.”
“Working women in unions have successfully secured equal pay settlements for almost 80,000 people in the last 4 years – for care and support workers, school support workers, social workers at Oranga Tamariki and teacher aides. There are more equal pay claims in progress. The process by which these outcomes have been achieved are established in the Equal Pay Amendment Act which has just passed. This is proof of what can be achieved when people come together and work as a collective for equity. Collective bargaining is a mechanism to achieve gender equity and fairness.”
“It has been a long journey to get to this place. Ensuring that meaningful, long lasting progress is achieved has taken time and required work from many organisations and individuals. The next challenge is to ensure that the Act is used to its full potential; ensuring that pay discrimination based on gender is something for the history books,” Wagstaff said.
MERAS Pay Equity Updates
Videos about Pay Equity
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