E tū leads the way on equal pay with a huge victory affecting 55,000 care and support workers across New Zealand. E tū stands up against pay discrimination however it presents itself and with 50% of the population impacted by gender-based pay discrimination our union is proud to be a leader in the campaign for Equal Pay.
Gender-based pay discrimination has plagued the workforce in New Zealand and internationally, arguably for as long as paid work has existed. It comes in many forms, from the undervaluing of work that is predominantly carried out by women, to systemic barriers to education and career progression, and women being paid less than their male colleagues for doing exactly the same job.
Equal Pay for care and support workers
On 18 April 2017 the E tū flags flew high with the announcement of the Care and Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlement Agreement – a massive win for over 50,000 workers in the care and support sector and for the Equal Pay campaign.
The win came after E tū member and caregiver Kristine Bartlett took an Equal Pay claim all the way to the highest court on behalf of over 3,000 other union members, arguing that the low rates of pay in the care and support sector were the result of systemic gender-based pay discrimination. This was the first time that the Equal Pay Act 1972 was used in this way, and we won!
Rather than let the courts decide what Kristine and her colleagues’ new pay rate should be, the Government chose to enter directly into negotiations with us for all workers across the sector. After a long negotiation, we finally reached a settlement in 2017 – which has resulted in one of the biggest pay rises in New Zealand history, and Kristine herself is overjoyed.
“This is a huge victory, not just for me but for thousands of care workers – not just today but for many years to come.”
– Kristine Bartlett
We aren’t stopping with this huge victory. The success of Kristine’s equal pay case has paved the way for many other women-dominant industries to do the same.
E tū and the PSA have now lodged an equal pay claim for mental health workers. These workers were left out of the care and support settlement but carry out very similar work to the E tū members who have just won a huge pay rise. The Government has refused to negotiate directly with the unions to get these mostly women workers the pay rises they missed out on. But we’ve won before, and we will win again!