Pacific people need immediate action to boost pay

The Government should ensure the Fair Pay Agreements Bill is passed as soon as possible,  immediately introduce pay transparency legislation and raise the minimum wage to the same level as the living wage, the Green Party says.

The Green Party says these are the first priorities for the Government in response to the Human Rights Commission’s inquiry into the Pacific pay gap.

“The chorus of voices calling for mandatory pay gap reporting is now so loud the only option the Government has is to act,” says Jan Logie. 

“Businesses, unions, community groups and the Human Rights Commission are all saying the same thing: pay transparency legislation will change people’s lives for the better. It is hard to think of a more popular decision the Government could take right now, so let’s just get on with it.

“Work was started on pay transparency two years ago by the then Green Minister, Julie Anne Genter. As Minister for Women, Julie Anne wrote to the Council of Trade Unions and Business New Zealand confirming that the Government would progress work on pay transparency.

“But since 2020 very little has happened. 

“While it is true to say that the pay is smaller than it was under the previous National Government, it has started to grow again in the last two years. 

“As well as providing all the evidence people need for why we need more Green MPs at the decision making table, the slow progress since 2020 is clearly making things harder for our communities, particularly at a time when costs are going up.

“Aotearoa should be a place of equal pay for equal work. Our colleagues, friends, and neighbours should not be forced to work for less simply because of where they are from. For too long, successive governments have allowed employers to take advantage of Pasifika workers. 

“Right now, Pasifika women earn on average around three quarters of what Pākeha men get paid. For every $1 a Pākehā man earns, Pasifika men and a Māori woman earn 81c. 

“This is because of the rules put in place by government-after-government which have allowed a race to the bottom for wages, with Pasifika and Māori missing out on fair pay for their work. 

“The Human Rights Commission shows this is happening, with racism, unconscious bias and workplace discrimination all contributing to poorer workplace outcomes for Pacific, Māori, and ethnic people. 

“Now is the time for the Government to step in and take immediate action. Low paid workers have been waiting too long for fair pay agreements. The Government also needs to go further by introducing mandatory pay gap reporting and raising the minimum wage to the same level as the living wage.

“At a time of rising living costs, this would make a real and lasting difference to people's lives. Māori, Pacific and other ethnic minorities have more money for food, to pay the bills, and provide for their families. 

“The Human Rights Commission says it will take 20 years to close the Pacific pay gap, but that is only if we start right now. So, no more excuses Minister,” says Jan Logie.

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