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Government pay equity proposal a blow for women and community health

New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 2 May 2024

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation NZNO Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) say the Government’s proposal, announced today, to disestablish the Pay Equity Taskforce within Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission is extremely regrettable.

NZNO Chief Executive Paul Goulter says women being paid less than men, even though they do work of equal value, remains widespread across the country.

“To disband the expert group of people tasked with supporting pay equity for women before this work is complete in New Zealand is unwise and speaks again of the Government’s misdirected priorities.

“The demise of the taskforce will come with a huge loss in terms of the knowledge and skills required to ensure women do not remain the victims of sex-based wage discrimination. These skills were of huge benefit to both employers and the unions representing their employees in sorting pay equity issues.”

Paul Goulter says the Government appears to be divesting its pay equity responsibilities under the Equal Pay Act to public sector agencies, making them responsible for meeting pay equity obligations from here on.

“And it’s really ominous that the Government has still not committed to closing the massive pay equity gap around the non-state (funded) sector – for example the huge difference between what nurses are paid in our hospitals as opposed to our general practices, community health and support services, Māori and iwi health providers, Plunket and so on.

“These forms of Primary Care are hugely important for preventing ill health and reducing the burden on our public hospitals and emergency departments. But they are under serious threat because the pay gap makes it hard for them to attract or retain staff. You and I and our loved ones pay the price for that.”

He says there is time for the Government to reverse this decision.

“Instead of dismantling the mechanisms we need to achieve pay equity, we’d like to see the Government actually honouring its pre-election promise to pay all nurses equally, by strongly committing to establishing pay equity across the funded sector (Primary/Community Health).”


Media enquiries: Rob Zorn, NZNO Media and Communications Advisor: 027 431 2617 |

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