Govt urged to do more for equal pay rights

  • 08/03/2016
Labour leader Andrew Little (Simon Wong)
Labour leader Andrew Little (Simon Wong)

International Women's Day must be used to ensure workers in female-dominated occupations get equal pay, Labour says.

The event is celebrated in countries across the globe on March 8, with this year's theme calling for pay parity for women.

A government working group was set up last year to tackle the issue, following a landmark court case involving rest home worker Kristine Bartlett, who argued she would have been paid more by her employer if she wasn't working in a female-dominated industry.

Ms Bartlett's case went all the way to the Supreme Court, and led to a court ruling that women in female-dominated workforces could make a claim for equal pay under the law.

Labour leader Andrew Little says the Government's lack of early involvement in Ms Bartlett's case shows its "parlous commitment" to the issue.

"Equal pay for work of equal value is a principle that applies not only to Kristine and others in the aged care sector, but to all work which is undervalued only because women have traditionally filled those positions."

He urged the Government to use International Women's Day to give a public assurance it would not amend the Equal Pay Act to extinguish the rights of any group or occupation making its case for equal pay.

In January, a States Services Commission report revealed male public service workers are paid up to 39 percent more than female counterparts.

The Public Service Association said the state sector needed to do better by its female staffers.

On average, a woman in the public sector was paid 14 percent less than a man, PSA national secretary Erin Polaczuk said.