The importance of pay transparency for our members was highlighted when we appeared before the Education and Workforce Committee last November alongside representatives from the NZCTU.
We called on the Government to introduce a pay transparency system to help individuals and unions to identify and address discrimination, and make more informed decisions about the pathways they take into higher paid work.
A recent Government inquiry revealed gender and ethnic pay gaps remain significant in some of our sectors. Pacific public servants, for example, are paid – on average – 19.5 percent less than their non-Pasifika colleagues, while Pākehā men are paid 27 per cent more than Pasifika women.
PSA policy advisor Kirsten Windelov told the Committee: “Pay secrecy is a significant barrier to eliminating gender and ethnic pay gaps.”
“Unless we’re open and honest about what people are paid, gender and ethnic pay gaps will remain hidden. It makes it much harder for us to use the provisions that already exist in law to address them.
Our country has had equal pay legislation for all workers since 1972, and for government workers since 1960. We all know by now that unequal pay is an unfortunate reality. It’s time for us to make it right.
In Aotearoa, pay rates are rarely published and information about pay is usually only held by the employers themselves. This makes pay transparency an urgent issue for workers.
Collective agreements can provide a greater level of pay transparency, however, only a small proportion of the nation’s workers have access to collective coverage.
What’s more, the pay bands that are included in collective agreements don’t always tell workers exactly what they’ll be paid.
The PSA set out a roadmap for action to the committee; including introduction of a law requiring employers to publicly report on gender pay gaps, and an initiative prohibiting bosses from enforcing pay secrecy.
A ban on asking potential hires about their past earnings was also suggested.
The PSA executive board underlined its commitment to pay transparency at its meeting last October.
They said: “The PSA is seeking gender and ethnic pay equality within our areas of coverage through pay transparency by 2024.
“Achieving pay transparency is one part of the our multi-pronged approach to eliminate unequal pay and will help us raise and advance equal pay claims.”