RIP Margaret Long
PSA Notice and Acknowledgement of Margaret’s Longs’s life and death
The PSA adopted the principle of equal pay in 1914 but made no progress until the 1950s. Women civil servants were regularly passed over for promotion and salary increases in favour of younger male staff with little or no experience. The Public Service Commission defended this practice by arguing that men were paid a ‘social wage’ that recognised their role as the family breadwinner. This attitude ignored the reality that growing numbers of women supported themselves financially, and often their families as well.
Headlines opposing equal pay were commonplace. “Equal Pay for Women is Injustice for Men” ran in Wellington newspaper The Evening Post. In a case where a Dunedin woman was demoted in 1956, a National MP is quoted having said “She won’t mind, she is young, attractive and has a husband.”
Margaret Brand was actively involved in the equal pay movement and took a leading role in applying political pressure applied to both major parties. After nearly a decade of campaigning the Public Sector Equal Pay Act was passed just before the 1960 election.
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