Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Pay equity letters to the editor

A letter in yesterday's NZ Herald:
I was amazed to read that State Services Minister Tony Ryall is cancelling pay investigations aimed at assessing the situation of grossly underpaid workers. This is like closing down the Waitangi Tribunal with the declaration that we no longer want to know about historic wrongs against Moari because we cannot afford to pay redress.
As with Treaty breaches, there is no prospect that those in female-dominated professions will ever receive adequate compensation for past exploitation. But the mana of those involved requires that their situations are properly examined and policies and practices changed.
As for the restraint in demands for future fairness in pay, I am sure social workers at Child, Youth and Family and school support staff have some understanding of the global economic realities. There is room for state negotiation on limiting redress if there is a genuine commitment to solving the problem. Such a commitment is not demonstrated by cancelling the pay investigations for social workers and school suport staff.
Despite the Government's trying to portray itself as trying to deal even-handedly with different groups, Mr Ryall's statement signals continued harmful treatment of these largely female groups.
Ian de Stigter, Mt Albert
And this was in today's:
I trust the Government will now act to reduce the salaries of all women MPs and Parliamentary workers to 9.5 percent less than that of their male colleagues "in fairness to the taxpayer."
That women social workers at Child, Youth and Family are paid 9.5 per cent less than their male colleagues beggars belief in the 21st century.
As a former social worker in Britain and a hospital soicla worker in NZ, I know my female colleagues worked as hard as and faced equally daunting situation as males, dealing with distressed, angry, abusive and, at times, aggressive people under a great deal of stress.
And this is not just child protection work, where the burntout rate is higher, but in all types of social work.
The axing of pay equity inquiries is not only an indictment of this Government but also previous Governments that allowed such an inequitable situation to continue.
Dick Ward, Taumarunui
To send a letter to the editor, you need to email letters@nzherald.co.nz and follow these rules:
  • Put your letter in the body of the email, not as an attachment
  • Keep it under 200 words
  • Include your name, residential address and phone number (so they can check you are who you say you are, although in my experience they don't generally bother)

More on recent pay equity stuff here - Because we're worth it: Pay Equity Hub


Nikki said...

Go Dick and Ian! Rock on guys!

Julie said...

Yeah I thought so too Nikki! It shows the impact that these decisions have on men as well, as men in those female-dominated professions are disadvantaged too.

(Also any spelling mistakes are mine, as I had to type them in and for some reason my typing is all up the wazoo lately).

david said...

Is someone here telling us that a female social worker is paid 9.5% less than a male social worker who is doing the same job?

Pay equity is a myth it cant exist except in a ideal world. As it is most public servents who already have safe jobs, unlimited sick leave, 5 to 6 weeks annual leave a year & recieve gold plated superannuation get paid much more than the average worker.

Anna said...

Eh? I think you've described the public service of Fairyland, Dave - that doesn't describe my situation, or the situation of any other public servant I know. If you make the correct comparison (ie appropriate skill levels) with the public sector, I think you'll find we're not as sensationally well-off as you think. You imply that public servants jobs should be made less secure. Why should anyone's job be insecure? Surely security of jobs for public and private sector employees alike should be a social goal.

As it is, CYF have a shocking time recruiting and retaining staff. That's a pretty clear market signal that there's something wrong with their pay and/or conditions.

Julie said...

David, the 9.5% thingy that the letter is referring to is in relation to the original article in the Herald which we discussed here.

My experience is that public servants don't have it that cushy at all, although I've never really been one myself. People seem to have a picture formed by Gliding On and Yes Minister, which is far from reality for the vast majority of those working the state sector.

David said...

Anna – I have friends / family who work for various government departments, from what they have told me they have unlimited sick leave, between 5 & 6 weeks annual leave, highly subsidized superannuation, very flexible working hours , regular pay rises and the pay rates higher than in the private sector. I have not said that public servants jobs should be less secure than those in the private sector, the very nature of the public sector means their jobs will always be more secure than those in the private sector. The pay and employment conditions of the average public service employee are considerably better than those of the private sector employee. It is a kick in the teeth for me when I and the people I work with have to struggle and sweat blood to ensure the business I work for can make a profit, continue to employ 60+ people, all of whom have families while I hear public servants whining & wingeing that they wont get a pay rise of that they don't get paid the same or more than another occupational group. I very much doubt any public servant will be made redundant in the next 12 months, I cant say the same for those in the private sector.

I would agree that If CYF have a problem retaining staff (aspecally front line staff) they should paid more and/or have better work conditions. I do not believe that a male social worker will be paid more than a female social worker because he is a male. Pay equity is a myth, pay rates come down to two basic conditions, the value of the worker to the employer and the ability of the employer to pay the going rate or more to retain the services of that worker. Comparing qualifications and skills is only a small part of determining what people should be paid.

Julie said...

Yes David I'm sure your informal conversations with people in your circles are sufficient to rebut extensive research by a variety of organisations such as the Equal Opportunities Commission.

My one stint as a public servant was as a library assistant. We got $12 an hour, the minimum leave entitlements (I think), and no ability to progress beyond library assistant (and that pay rate) without doing a three year fulltime or four year part time course, at our own expense. And there were a lot of grumpy buggers who always swore they had returned their library books when they bloody well hadn't. Heaven it wasn't.

Psycho Milt said...

Perhaps Dave's contacts work for the public service in some other country, or perhaps they're simply winding him up. Last public service job I had (in the 1990s, admittedly) featured 3 weeks annual leave, 5 days sick leave and a salary somewhere in the 20,000s.

None of which alters the fact that CYF is almost certainly not paying female workers 9.5% less than their male colleagues, and people such as the letter-writer above are either being dishonest or simply fail to understand the difference between statistical averages and absolute numbers.

Anonymous said...

Those 9 years Labour were in power were terribly wasted weren't they?

stargazer said...

wasted how? by finally getting pay equity for nurses in a massive settlement? by significantly increasing the pay of teachers?

in fact, why don't you have a look here (the pay & employment equity page of the department of labour)-


you'll find that those 9 years were extremely productive and that the national government wants to throw it all away. i wonder why?

Anonymous said...

All the Nats did is defer an enquiry and a lot of talkfests. Hardly a huge leap forward from Labour.

The Nats are not against pay equity, although I know you like to think so.