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Strife over govt's new Pay Equity Bill

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 20/04/2017

Just days after hailing the government's $2 billion pay settlement for care workers, unions are voicing serious concerns about its new Pay Equity Bill.

Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse released a draft of the bill on Thursday and asked for public feedback - he didn't have to wait long to find out what the unions think.

The bill sets up a framework for resolving future pay equity claims, which depend on comparing wage rates in similar workplaces.

The Council of Trade Unions said it needed to be "fundamentally reviewed" because it limited the way comparisons could be made.

"This bill, as it stands, will trap many low-paid women on discriminatory pay rates," said CTU president Richard Wagstaff.

The Public Service Association said it had serious concerns.

"It is very disappointing that just two days after the jubilant celebrations by care and support workers, the government has released proposals to slam the door on future claimants," said PSA national secretary Erin Polaczuk.

"If Kristine Bartlett were to lodge her equal pay claim against Terranova using this framework, she would not have achieved the great result they were celebrating."

Mrs Bartlett filed the claim that led to the pay settlement.

Ms Polaczuk said if she had filed it under the Pay Equity Bill, she would have been restricted to comparisons within the aged care sector which was poorly paid across the board.

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