The Gender pay gap myth is being promoted by the CTU

A friend of mine who is a member of the CTU sent me this the other day. It is an e-mail from the CTU Vice President Rachel Mackintosh.

…think about the rest of the year. What if I told you, sure, you’ll still be working – you just won’t be getting paid for it.

Sound ridiculous? Well, on average New Zealand women earn 87% of what men do. Today, Tuesday 15 November marked 87 per cent of 2016 and because women are paid 13% less than men that means if you are a woman working until the end of the year you are working for free.

This is a deliberately deceptive statement based on comparing apples with pears. If I earn $20 an hour as a woman doing the exact same job as my male colleague and he earns $20 an hour I can still produce statistics to show a gender pay gap. Let’s say we both entered the job at 23 years of age and I left after 5 years to have my children and don’t return for ten years. I then chose to work part time in order to be able to fit the job around my children. Eventually, I return to full-time work but because I have been out of the workforce I am now paid a lot less than my male counterpart who never left. If over a 25 year period you add up what he earned and compare it with what I earned presto chango there is the mythical magical pay gap!

We can do better. In 2016 working women will earn thousands of dollars less than they should – just because they are women. The Government is currently considering some Equal Pay Principles [1] that would help. It’s just they’ve been “considering” them for 6 months. The Prime Minister needs to take action.

They make less because they have made different choices to men. A female engineer gets paid exactly the same as a male engineer with the same qualifications and experience. If women choose to study subjects that lead to less lucrative careers that is their choice. If they choose to leave the workforce to raise a family it is their choice. There is no conspiracy to pay women less. Women have pay equality in New Zealand and it is dishonest to suggest that they don’t.

In Rachel Mackintosh’s opinion piece what she is really asking for has nothing to do with pay equality and everything to do with equating pay rates with sexism. She wants employers to be forced to pay more for occupations that are currently not highly paid because they are not considered as valuable as other occupations. These are occupations she sees as being lowly paid because they are viewed as ” women’s work.” While her intentions may be good she is proposing tinkering with the free market and forcing businesses to pay employees more. The last time the government tinkered with pay rates it cost  hundreds of intellectually handicapped people all over New Zealand their jobs. The law of unintended consequences applies here.

…this is as easy as 1, 2, 3. And the Equal Pay Principles are step one. XXX, we’ve let this slide long enough. Join together with thousands of New Zealanders and tell Parliament to get cracking. We can achieve equal pay. By next year we want to tell a different story.

Thank you,

Rachel Mackintosh
CTU Vice President

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