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Pasifika women effectively working for free for the rest of the year

Council of Trade Unions President Richard Wagstaff said that today marks ‘working for free day’ for Pasifika women because of the gender pay imbalance.

The latest figures out this year show that on average, per hour of work Pasifika women are paid just 68.5% of what Pākehā men receive, and 72.3% of what all men make, making their gender pay imbalance a whopping 27.7%. In 250 days, Pākehā men earn what Pasifika women have to work all year for, and by the 263rd day, the average Kiwi man has earned her yearly salary. From the 21st of September, Pasifika women effectively start working for free until 2019.”

“The gender pay imbalance isn’t just about gender, it’s about discrimination, and the impact compounds on people who are already discriminated against by factors like racism. Over a working lifetime, this adds up to opportunities for health, security and freedom that New Zealand women and their whole families are missing out on by lottery of birth.”

CTU Komiti Pasifika Co-convenor Caroline Mareko says Pasifika ‘working for free day’ hasn’t moved since last year, and change isn’t happening fast enough for Pasifika women. “My mother worked in low-paid jobs all through the 70’s to the 90’s, and I see her struggles replicated for Pasifika women today – working more than one job, sometimes more than two jobs, just to put food on the table and provide for their children,” she said.

“We have Pasifika women in professions like mine, in early childhood education, who are the main or solo bread-winner in the household. Their partners are also affected by low-wage work, insecure work or unemployment. Pasifika women’s low wages often need to stretch to cover commitments within their extended families, and allow them to fully participate in their community and cultural obligations too.

“Wages might be rising, but prices have risen faster. The people struggling hardest 40 years ago are still the people struggling hardest now, and that’s my people. That needs to change.”

“We held our Komiti Pasefika Biennial Fono in Wellington last week, and heard from Kristine Bartlett about her equal pay journey. It was inspiring to hear Kristine’s lessons about how to turn discrimination on its head and get the wages we deserve. The union movement and the Government can now apply the equal pay principles for our pacific sisters.”