13 Aug 2017

Labour pledges to scrap pay equity bill

6:59 am on 13 August 2017

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has pledged to scrap the pay equity bill and start again if the party is elected to government.

Jacinda Ardern addresses the crowd at the Pay Equity Rally in Auckland.

Jacinda Ardern addresses the crowd at the Pay Equity Rally in Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Eva Corlett

Speaking at a pay equity rally in central Auckland yesterday afternoon, Ms Ardern said it was very important to right the wrong created by the government's exclusion of mental health workers from the recent pay equity settlement.

Ms Ardern said a settlement was crucial as there has been a 60 percent increase in New Zealanders with mental health problems trying to access help in the past nine years.

"We know have the potential for our mental health workforce to flow into our aged care workforce in search of decent wages and for their work to be valued - that is a problem for all of us."

Ms Ardern committed to throwing out the Pay Equity Legislation introduced by government this week and redrafting it, if Labour gets into office.

She said the current legislation would stop further settlements such as the TerraNova settlement, which she said was "just not right in 2017".

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About 300 people gathered to wave placards and cheer or boo each political party's pay equity promises. Photo: RNZ / Eva Corlett

Ms Ardern said the Labour Party would change the bill's restrictions to taking a claim.

National Party MP Jo Goodhew, who was jeered by the crowd, asked them to hear her opinion.

"The private sector also [needs] to close its gap - we've got to do better."

Ms Goodhew said equal pay and pay equity "are not the same thing" so they require different approaches.

She said the State Services Commission was now asking every public service organisation to report on how they would fix the pay gap in four year plans.

Crowds at the Auckland Pay Equity Rally in Auckland.

Photo: RNZ / Eva Corlett

Hundreds gather to fight for pay equity

Around 300 people crammed into Te Ha o Hine Place to wave placards and cheer, or boo each political party's pay equity promises.

The Green Party's Jan Logie, Māori Party's Cinnamon Whitlock and New Zealand First's Tracey Martin also spoke.

One woman said she had attended the rally because the government was trying to reverse historic change to equal pay through their proposed legislation.

She said low paid workers who did some of the hardest and most difficult work in society had won a settlement.

But, she said "then the government has turned around and tried to take that away from other workers who do similarly valuable and difficult work".

Ms Logie pledged that the Green Party would make sure women who worked for the government are fairly paid by 2020.

She said the party had talked to experts and unions and believed the timeframe was achievable.

"It's time for a bold government move on pay equity," she said.

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