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Equal pay for work of equal value – there is a case to answer

The Pay Equity Challenge Coalition is paying close attention to the historic equal pay case underway in Auckland today and scheduled to run until Wednesday.

Spokesperson Angela McLeod believes there is a case to answer: “The aged care workforce in New Zealand is overwhelming female and many, like Kristine Bartlett, earn the minimum wage or close to it. Pay rates this low do not reflect the value of the work.”

“Caring for others has historically been seen as “women’s work” and has always been underpaid and often unpaid. The case will examine whether Kristine Bartlett is being undervalued and paid too little because she is doing what is considered to be “women’s work”.

“There is no reason why “women’s work” should be remunerated at a lesser rate than “men’s work”. This case will finally open the door for equal pay in New Zealand.”

“The Equal Pay Act 1972 was passed to legislate for equal pay regardless of gender – it’s well overdue to start looking at gendered pay structures in more depth,” McLeod says.

“The court must use the Equal Pay Act to decide, if aged care were a male dominated occupation, whether workers would be paid the same. We think not, and that is what we expect the finding of the court to be.”

“The work that those in the aged care sector perform is complex, skilled and crucial to society. How can minimum rates of pay for these women be justified?” McLeod said.

Background: Read more about Kristine here.

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