Health Minister Tony Ryall declined to comment on a landmark
gender pay decision when he visited Dunedin yesterday.
Carer Kristine Bartlett is paid $14.32 after 20 years in the
industry, and the Service and Food Workers Union successfully
argued on her behalf that her low pay was a form of gender
Mr Ryall said he had not studied the details of the
Employment Court decision, which was released on Thursday.
''I haven't been briefed on the details of the case. I would
have to see what the decision was before commenting
Asked whether carers had a moral case for more pay, he said
New Zealand was in a ''tight financial environment, and those
are the salaries and payments that the providers pay their
The decision of the court sitting in Auckland has been hailed
as the greatest advance for the rights of working women since
the passing of the Equal Pay Act in 1972.
Workers union national secretary John Ryall said Ms
Bartlett's case showed her pay rate to care for the elderly
was based on her gender, rather than her skills, effort and
Her case was taken to the court by the union against her
employer Terranova Homes and Care Ltd.
The court found Terranova Homes' 106 female and four male
caregivers were all paid between $13.75 and $15 an hour.
The court also found the defendant could not prove it paid
its four male caregiver employees the same as its 106 female
caregivers, or that it would pay replacement males the same
Mr Ryall said the next stage in the case was for the court to
get evidence about what the comparative pay rates would be if
the industry was male-dominated.
The Public Service Association says the decision has
far-reaching implications for thousands of women who work in
low-paid occupational groups.
PSA national secretary Brenda Pilott said it was a big step
in terms of getting rid of the notion of ''women's work'' and
reinforced that equal pay was a basic human right.
New Zealand Nurses Organisation industrial adviser David Wait
said the decision was important for the organisation, which
had a 93% female membership.
''Today is a great day for each and every one of them.
Equality is now one step closer.''
- Additional reporting APNZ