An important legal case can put a previously unknown individual into the spotlight and maybe even make them a household name. It can also be a way for one person to symbolise the experience of hundreds of thousands of others.
Get to know the name Kristine Bartlett. Because this brave and hard-working Lower Hutt caregiver is the new face of the campaign for fair pay for low-paid women and for women’s work to be paid fairly when compared to jobs men do.
The Service and Food Workers Union Nga Ringa Tota is taking a case that aged care employers and the Government that funds them are in breach of the Equal Pay Act 1972 because of their failure to address the very low pay rates in the sector.
The union member at the centre of the case, Kristine Bartlett, is a long-term caregiver at Terranova Homes and Care. She says her hourly wage of $14.46 is less than what would be paid to male employees with the same, or substantially similar skills. Only six of Terranova’s 117 carers are men.
The new case is an historic opportunity to prove that female dominated care work is undervalued and underpaid as was so convincingly demonstrated in the Caring Counts Report.
This case heralds a new approach in the fight for equal pay and pay and employment equity in New Zealand.
The case has been referred to the Employment Court from the Employment Relations Authority. The Pay Equity Challenge Coalition has been accepted as an intervener by the Court. The status of interveners is a watching brief and they may possibly make extra submissions to those of the claimants.