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Pay gap rise 'disappointing': Minister

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 7/10/2016
Minister for Women Louise Upston © Getty Images Minister for Women Louise Upston

Official statistics show the wage gap between men and women has widened and businesses need to do more to ensure there's equal opportunity, the Minister for Women says.

But unions and the Green Party say it's up to government to fix the issue.

Statistics New Zealand's Income Survey has found the pay gap between men and women has grown to 12 per cent in 2016, up from 11.8 per cent in 2015.

Although that shift isn't statically significant, it is well up on 2014's gap of 9.9 per cent and the widest since 2008.

Minister for Women Louise Upston called the figures "disappointing".

She said employers needed to get better at collecting data, measuring progress and tackling the barriers that stopped women from advancing their careers.

"Closing the gender pay gap requires making conscious, measured and reported efforts to tackle pay differences between men and women," she said.

But the Green Party says the government needs to take more action on the issue.

"Just four years ago, the gender pay gap had gone down to 9.1 per cent but the trend now seems to be a gradually increasing gap between what men and women are getting paid in this country," Green Party women's spokesperson Jan Logie said.

She called for Cabinet so sign off on recommendations from a joint working group into gender pay equality that was set up in 2015.

The Joint Working Group on Pay Equity Principles' recommendations were signed off by the CTU, Business New Zealand, MBIE and the State Services Commission and sent to ministers in May for consideration.

They proposed the government set up a process for addressing pay equity claims.

Council of Trade Unions President Richard Wagstaff, one of the signatories the that document, also said action was needed.

If no changes were made, it would take Kiwi women 110 years to reach pay equity at current rates, he said.

"As long as there is a difference in pay based on gender we have a serious issue of unfairness. The government has a duty to show leadership and take action."

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