10 Jun 2010

NZ academic critical of stance on domestic workers' standard

11:28 am on 10 June 2010

A New Zealand academic and former MP says the government's stance on an international labour standard for domestic workers has elicited a shocked response from other countries.

The Labour Minister, Kate Wilkinson, says New Zealand's vote at an International Labour Organisation conference was for a recommendation rather than a convention.

But Professor Marilyn Waring says she's wary of the consequences of not adopting a convention on labour standards for domestic workers whom she says are mainly women from Pacific and other migrant communities excluded from anti-discrimination legislation.

Professor Waring says New Zealand's stance on the labour standard is of particular concern in view of a proposal to recruit more Pacific women as caregivers for the elderly.

"Some kind of scheme like the seasonal fruit-picking, pruning scheme that operates with the Pacific would be introduced in this kind of care area. Now we know that the wages and conditions in that area are very very low and to be asking our Pacific neighbours to send women to work in New Zealand without those fundamental rights secured is a problem."

Professor Marilyn Waring.