Advocating for Pay Equity

Already about 160 PSA members have signed up to become pay equity advocates.

Pay equity campaign organiser Gabriel Brettkelly says the initial response has been extremely positive.

“We have both women and men signing up as advocates which really underscores the point that inequality affects us all,” she says.

Gabriel says there is still an important education job to be done on closing the gender pay gap with many people assuming it’s not a problem in New Zealand.

“In many places of work it’s an embedded issue that will require both awareness and a real commitment to change,” Gabriel says.

“And that’s where our pay equity advocates come in. Already they are doing some very creative things to raise awareness about our Worth 100% campaign. For example, one of our advocates has created a pay equity quiz for their staff notice board.”

In March, Gabriel will pilot a two-hour education module for pay equity advocates within the PSA education team. She then plans to introduce it to the women’s network committee. Once finalised, both women’s network committee members and education organisers will be able to offer the module in workplaces around the country.

Interested in becoming a PSA pay equity advocate? Click the Join Campaign button on the pay equity webpage:


Important victory for gender pay equity

The saying goes that “good things take time”, but for aged-care worker Kristine Bartlett and many other women workers in women-dominated occupations, such as caregiving, time must sometimes seem like an eternity.   

Even after 20 years with aged-care provider Terranova Homes and Care Ltd, Kristine earned just $14.46 an hour. In 2013, Kristine and the Service and Food Workers Union (SFWU) lodged a claim for equal value for equal work. The case is being decided in two stages with the first stage considering questions of law under the Equal Pay Act 1972 and the second stage determining the principles that will set the pay equity rate for Kristine’s job in aged care.

For the first stage, the Employment Court ruled in favour of Kristine, noting that for work done exclusively or predominantly by women, the comparison should be to work done by men in any sector or industry that required the same (or substantially similar), skills, responsibility, service, conditions and degrees of effort.

Terranova appealed and in 2014 the Appeal Court dismissed the appeal, but recommended that the Employment Court issue principles and guidelines before proceeding further with Kristine Bartlett’s claim.

The Aged Care Association then lodged an appeal with the Supreme Court on 25 November. On 22 December, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal at this stage, saying that the Employment Court should now assess the rate for the work as per the original decision.

The Supreme Court’s decision means the second stage of the case can now proceed where principles will be determined that will set the pay equity rate for Kristine’s job in aged care, and comparisons with men’s work in other sectors can be made.

Erin Polaczuk, PSA national secretary says, “Supported by SFWU, Kristine Bartlett has taken on an issue that affects women across many sectors. We hope the Employment Court process continues to produce such positive outcomes and that Kristine and her fellow workers earn equal pay for work of equal value.

“Through our Worth 100% campaign and other pay equity initiatives, the PSA will continue to give this issue the profile it deserves. Our goal is to see this happen by 2020, but for people like Kristine it really can’t happen soon enough.”


This article is from the March 2015 issue of the PSA Journal. You can read back issues of the Journal by clicking here.