Union disappointed at "stumbling blocks" in draft pay equity bill



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Primary teachers’ union NZEI Te Riu Roa has described the Government’s announcement of a $2 billion package to lift the wages of care workers as a “fantastic breakthrough for pay equity” and is eager to see education support workers also afforded justice. While mediation with Ministry of Education on the union's pay equity claim is progressing, NZEI says it is disappointed with the draft Pay Equity Bill released last week.

NZEI claims the draft Bill introduces new hoops women would have to jump through, which would severely limit their ability to get a fair outcome in a pay equity case. It wants to see these “stumbling blocks” removed from the Bill.

The union is also calling on the Government to show good faith to women working in public sector jobs by allocating Budget funds to cover upcoming pay equity claims.

NZEI National Secretary Paul Goulter says following the care giver wage increase announcement, women working in scores of female dominated industries are lining up for justice, including Education Support Workers.

“Education support workers are paving the way for other women working in education. Thousands of women working as teacher aides, and support staff in schools, are next in line for pay equity talks, with ECE teachers close behind,” says Goulter.

“The Government has said it's committed to pay equality for women. We’re asking for assurances from the government that funds will be set aside in the upcoming Budget to ensure there is money to make fair pay for women a reality.”

The NZEI is currently in mediation with the Ministry of Education on their claim. A timeline has been agreed to jointly progress this work over the next 15 weeks including assessing the work of support workers, looking at comparators and to begin negotiation of a settlement.

“After 21 years of working as an education support worker I'm delighted that the Ministry is now going to address our pay equity case," said Kathy Power, one of the three women who took the claim.

Consultation on the draft Pay Equity Bill closes on Thursday 11 May and legislation is planned to be introduced soon after. For more about the consultation process visit www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/employment-skills/legislation-reviews/exposure-draft-employment-pay-equity-and-equal-pay-bill.

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