A group of forty New Zealand unions, charities and community groups have come together to implore the government to change the law to immediately address gender and ethnic pay gaps in New Zealand and help alleviate poverty .
In an open letter to the government published in major New Zealand newspapers today, the letter to the Prime Minister as Minister for Child Poverty Reduction Jacinda Ardern, Associate Minister for Workplace Relations Priyanca Radhakrishnan and Women’s Minister Jan Tinetti asks the government to make the declaration of pay gaps compulsory for companies with more than 50 employees.
Led by MindTheGapNZ, the letter says that with the soaring cost of living weighing down families in Aotearoa, compounded by winter heating bills, we need to act more than ever to close our gender pay gaps and ethnicities.
“Many women and people in our Maori, Pasifika and other communities earn much less than if they were pākehā men. It is not fair. It’s not the Kiwi way. The playing field is tilted against too many people,” the letter reads.
“In these difficult times, every dollar counts. We can no longer afford to wait.
“Requiring major employers to report pay gaps can help reduce child poverty and end discrimination that impacts the aspirations of Maori, Pasifika; of other ethnic groups.
MindtheGap campaign co-founders Jo Cribb and Dellwyn Stuart say while they are pleased the government has agreed to address pay gaps as a priority, it needs to be done urgently.
“Experience abroad shows that requiring companies to report their pay gap has not only closed the gap, but also quickly had a positive impact on workers’ wages, once the legislation announced,” says Dr Cribb.
Analysis of public pay gap reporting in seven countries shows that mandatory reporting can reduce gender pay gaps by 20-40%. Applied to the New Zealand context, this means that a woman earning the current median wage in New Zealand ($26.37) could receive $12.80 to $35.77 per week more.
According to Dr. Cribb, while a raise of up to $35 may not seem like much, it could make a difference in the lives of low-wage employees.
“35 dollars a week will help me pay the heating bills this winter or buy twelve liters of gasoline. We literally cannot afford to waste any more time fixing this issue.
MindTheGap Allied Member, The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, said introducing pay gap reporting will help empower the most vulnerable communities in Aotearoa.
“As a country, we can help improve the well-being of our workers through simple measures such as reporting pay gaps. We look forward to working with the government to make this a reality,” said CTU Secretary Melissa Ansell-Bridges.
CEO of Community Housing Aotearoa-Ngā Wharerau o Aotearoa Vic Crockford says they work with a large number of people who cannot afford rent, let alone aspire to own, despite the fact that they earn a double income household.
“The pay gap only makes it worse. We know that what gets measured gets managed and we should treat pay gaps as we treat health and safety – as a business-critical issue that impacts the well-being of our society.
In its #NotAnotherWinter campaign, MindTheGap is asking New Zealanders to sign a petition calling for urgent action on the issue.
There is already broad public support for pay gap reporting. A poll shows that more than half of New Zealanders (58%) think big companies should be required to regularly and publicly share any pay gaps. (women 62%, men 54%). A similar number said they were concerned about significant pay gaps and 68% agreed that large companies should be required to make job applicants aware of pay gaps.
So far, 55 of the nearly 5,000 companies with more than 50 employees are reporting their gender pay gaps on the MindTheGap campaign’s public pay gap register. Seven of them also report their Maori pay gap and their Pasifika pay gap.
But MindtheGap wants the government to work with businesses to agree a standardized approach to reporting and urgently introduce pay gap reporting legislation. Mandatory reporting is already in place for the New Zealand public service.
Open letter signatories: Human Rights Commission, E tū, New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, FIRST Union, Pacifica Inc, Auckland Action Against Poverty, Wellington City Mission, Auckland City Mission, Community Housing, NZ Council of Christian Social Services, E Tipu E Rea Whānau, Strategic Compensation, Working Women’s Resource Centre, National Council of Women, Graduate Women New Zealand, BPW, Inclusive Aotearoa Collective, Belong Aotearoa, New Zealand Nurses Organisation, YWCA, Gendertick, Global Women, Rural Women, Pacific Women’s Watch , CAANZ, Sports NZ, Pride Pledge, Auckland Women’s centre, Good Shepherd NZ, Diversity Works, Retirement Commission, Birthright, Hui e, Renters United, Action Station, Monte Cecilia, The Period Place, St Matthews and Socialink
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