Leading the charge on pay equity

No matter who you are or what kind of work you do, you deserve to be paid fairly for your work. But for women, achieving fair pay has been a long, hard battle which is not over yet.

Despite the passing of the Equal Pay Act 40 years ago, women are still paid $4 an hour less, on average, than men. In many cases that's because work that's traditionally done by women—such as caring and working with young children—has been historically undervalued. Entire sectors of the workforce have been underpaid as a result.

The good news is, recent landmark court decisions have clarified that our right to equal pay covers the right to pay equity too.

Pay equity is when people who work in jobs that have traditionally been done by women, are paid the same as those doing work of the same value that's traditionally done by men.

Aged care workers won their fight for pay equity, winning huge 20 to 40 percent pay rises. And NZEI members are next up.

Education support workers, who help very young children with additional learning needs, are nearing the end of their pay equity negotiations with the Education Ministry.

Teacher aides, who support the learning and development of children and young people in primary and secondary school, have begun their talks, and other school support staff like administrators are following close behind.

Recently teachers and staff in early childhood education began work on a pay equity claim with the aim of uniting and lifting pay among those working in the kindergarten, community and private sectors.

As part of these talks, both sides agree on comparators, which are basically jobs that are traditionally done by men, where both sides agree require similar levels of skill, degree of efforts, and responsibility. It's complicated, but the Government says it is committed to making progress on pay equity—and we're committed to holding them to it!

NZEI Te Riu Roa members are on a mission to win pay equity, and put an end to being under-valued and underpaid just because the work we do has historically been done by women.

We're making history. There's never been a better time to be a part of it. Join up and join in here.

Pay equity for ECE 

Teachers and staff are joining forces from all over the country, in private and community-run centres, in an unprecedented show of strength and unity. We're calling on ECE workers to join in now.

See more about our historic ECE pay equity claim at Every Child Is Worth It.

Pay equity for school administration staff 

Our pay equity claim for school administrators kicks off now. We're starting out by researching all the different responsibilities and skills that you have, and we need your help.

Help kick off our claim.


In 2012, aged care worker Kristine Bartlett brought an Equal Pay Act case against her employer, Terranova Homes. She argued she had spent 20 years on very low pay because aged care is largely performed by women.  

Ms Bartlett’s case went all the way to the Supreme Court. The Court agreed that anyone who does so-called “women’s work” can make a pay equity claim under the Equal Pay Act.

To avoid further court cases after the Kristine Bartlett win, the Government set up a set up a Joint Working Group with unions, businesses and officials to agree a set of pay equity principles. These principles aim to help women and employers negotiate over equal pay and get justice more quickly and efficiently than by having to go to court.

In April this year, in response to Kristine Bartlett's win, the Government agreed a $2 billion settlement to fund 20 to 40 percent pay rises for care workers over the next five years.

This win by rest home care workers show what's possible when we combine our strength in a union to give us the power to stand up for what's right.

Join up to join in, and help make the movement for fair pay unstoppable.

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