A new bill setting out the new process for pay equity claims –introduced to Parliament on the 125thanniversary of women getting the vote – has been welcomed by NZNO.
The Equal Pay Amendment Billfollows the new Government withdrawing the previous National Government’s Employment (Pay Equity and Equal Pay) Bill 2017 –which had been widely criticised by the union movement – in November last year.
The New Zealand Nurses’ Organisation negotiated a process for negotiating a pay equity settlement – due to commence from the end of 2019 – as part of the collective agreement settled with the district health boards after a long and strained campaign including strike action in July.
Cee Payne, NZNO Industrial Services manager, said it was fitting that the bill was introduced on the very day 125 years ago that the hard fight for women’s right to vote was won. She said many years after a victory in the struggle for pay equity was also in sight.
The replacement bill is built on the recommendations of the original Joint Working Group on Pay Equity Principles and Workplace Relations minister Iain Lees-Galloway said it removed the ‘hurdles’ of the previous bill that would have made it too hard to raise pay equity claims.
Payne said NZNO, as the union and professional association with the largest female membership, believed it was essential that “good legislation is in place that enable all women to achieve pay equity and make pay equity claims, whether or not they are covered by collective agreements”.
She said once pay equity was established in the DHB sector it would set the benchmark for members in non-DHB employment. “Already we are seeing positive responses from employers in the private sector to the pay increases achieved in the DHB MECA bargaining, and this reflects a massive step forward for all nurses in New Zealand.”