How far has NZ come with equal pay and pay equity since women were granted the vote in the 1893? This story shows how the gender pay gap, pay parity within and between occupations, and minimum wages were represented in newspaper cartoons.
How far has NZ come with equal pay and pay equity since women were granted the vote in 1893? Equal pay is when men and women get paid the same for doing the same work - equal pay for equal work. Pay equity is when women in a female-dominated occupation, like nursing, get paid the same as men in a male-dominated occupation, like policing. Let's explore NZ's gender pay gap for women through the eyes of cartoonists. We'll look at attitudes to women workers; the legislative journey for equal pay; and female-dominated professions and pay parity. We'll also celebrate successes along the way.
Results from New Zealand Statistics income surveys have shown the extent of the gender pay gap, based on median hourly earnings. Whereas the 2015 survey had shown an increase in the gap to 11.8% and the 2016 survey to 12%, the 2017 survey showed the gap was 9.4% which was the smallest since 2012. Māori and Pacific women have lower rates of pay compared to both women and men of other ethnicities. Based on Oxfam's 2017 report, 'An economy for the 99 per cent", women would take 170 years to be paid the same as men due to women often taking on low-paying jobs and facing high levels of discrimination in the workplace.
History shows employment opportunities and pay being set according to gender. Recently, the Ministry for Women released two reports, Empirical evidence of the gender pay gap in New Zealand (March 2017) and Parenthood and labour market outcomes (May 2018). The results found that factors such as differences in education, occupations that men and women are employed in, and women being more likely to work part-time accounted for around 20 per cent of the current gender pay gap. The other 80 per cent was owing to "unexplained" factors such as conscious and unconscious bias. Societal attitudes and beliefs about the types of work appropriate for women have been satirised in the following cartoons.
The first legislation in NZ to regulate factory employment was the Employment of Females Act of 1873 which dealt with hours of work, holidays, sanitation, and ventilation, but was inadequately enforced. In 1881 the Employment of Females and Others Act placed further restriction on hours of work and provided for overtime to be paid at penal rates, but also lacked adequate enforcement. A Royal Commission (1890) set up to inquire into allegations of sweated labour found a considerable number of cases of exploitation of workers, such as girls working 18 hours a day for 7s. to 8s. a week. The Factories Act 1891 was passed and in the first months of operation, inspectors required improvements and alterations in 913 factories. It was replaced by the Factories Act 1894; then the Factories Act 1946 which provided for a maximum of a 40 hour week in any factory and an 8 hour day (excluding a meal break). (See An encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966)
The first legislation governing working conditions in shops in NZ was the Shops and Shop Assistants Act of 1892, which lacked effective enforcement measures. It was replaced by the Shops and Shop Assistants Act 1894 which was enforced by factory inspectors. The weekly hours of women of all ages and of boys under 18 years was to 52 hours and their daily hours limited to nine and a half hours, with the exception that on one working day in each week 11½ hours might be worked. In 1904 it was re-enacted as the Shops and Offices Act 1904, which was later re-enacted again in 1908, in 1921–22, and in 1955. Both shops and offices were subjected to a 40-hour week but restrictions on overtime for shops did not apply to offices, nor the opening and closing hours of shops apply to offices. (See An encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966)
A notable event occurred during World War II when the New Zealand National Tramways Union, which was formed in 1939, became the first Union in New Zealand to win equal pay for women members. Due to the wartime shortage of manpower, from 1942 women were employed as tram conductors. Whereas the employers wanted to pay lower wages, the Union Executive insisted on equal pay for equal work and won.
1942: First Union to win equal payOne of the first df the women conductors to start work on the Wellington trams photographed on duty this morning. (Evening Post, 24 June 1942)
National Library of New Zealand
Between 1945 and 1971 the number of women workers in NZ more than doubled to 382,000. They were paid less than men: their minimum wage was 65% of the male minimum in 1949. Women from the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), National Council of Women and other groups fought for a Council for Equal Pay and Opportunity, which was set up in 1957. The Government Service Equal Pay Act 1960 introduced equal pay legislation into the public service, which was followed by the Equal Pay Act 1972 for the private sector. As a result, the gap between men and women’s hourly rate had shrunk to 22% by 1985. (See Te Ara)
In 1975 the Working Women’s Council was formed, led by Sonja Davies. Two years later it issued the Working Women’s Charter, a bill of rights for working women. The Charter's provision were adopted by the Federation of Labour and the Labour Party as policy in 1980. Provision 3 dealt with equal pay for work of equal value. (See Te Ara)
In 1985, New Zealand ratified the International Labour Organization Conventions No. 100 on Equal Remuneration and No. 111 on Equal Employment Opportunity, and the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discriminations Against Women (CEDAW). However, the Employment Equity Act, which was passed in 1990, was repealed by the incoming National Government later the same year.
In 1992, the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust was set up by government to address some of the issues raised by the pay-equity campaign through the promotion to employers of the business benefits of equal-employment opportunities (EEO). However, as stated on the Ministry of Social Development website, "Pay equity was largely absent from the political agenda during the remainder of the 1990s... In July 2002, the government put out a Ministry of Women’s Affairs discussion document Next Steps Towards Employment Equity and established a Taskforce on Pay and Employment Equity in the Public Service, Health and Education, chaired by Diana Crossan."
2003: Pay equity and Public Service"Women in the Public Service want pay equity with the men!" "That's a great idea! We'll reduce the men's pay rates down to that of women's." 26 May...
Alexander Turnbull Library
The PaEE unit was set up by the Labour Government to provide support on establishing pay equity rates. Under its Plans of Action, all government departments, the public health sector, and the public education sector were to undertake pay and employment equity reviews (audits) and develop response plans. In March 2009, two pay investigations were underway for the female-dominated occupation groups of social workers and special education support workers. However, the new National government discontinued these due to "current economic and fiscal pressures". lt then disestablished the Pay and Employment Equity Office in June 2009.
In 2011, the Human Rights Commission released the Pay Equality Bill to allow employees to ask employers if they are receiving equal pay. At first, Prime Minister John Key appeared open to the Bill in an interview on TVNZ's Breakfast programme, but later the same day he not only said he did not support it, but existing laws already outlawed discrimination: "We also would have real concerns if it was divisive in the workplace or had unintended consequences". (See NZHerald article)
In 2015, the Government established the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity Principles (the JWG). Its recommendations were accepted by the Government in November 2016. In July 2017, the Government introduced the Employment (Pay Equity and Equal Pay) Bill which was withdrawn from Parliament in November 2017 following the formation of a new coalition government. In January 2018 Ministers reconvened the Joint Working Group to provide further recommendations which were provided to Ministers in February 2018 and will be used to develop pay equity legislation. Watch this space!
The introduction of equal pay and anti-discrimination legislation has improved women’s pay rates and access to jobs. However, female-dominated occupations tend to be lower paid than male-dominated occupations. History shows that women are more likely to be in a narrower range of occupations (occupational segregation) and at the bottom or middle of an organisation (vertical segregation). When women take career breaks or work part-time it can affect their careers in terms of accumulating work experience and accessing professional development opportunities. Also, fewer higher-level positions are available on a part-time basis. As more women joined the workforce, women’s groups and unions focused on pay parity, childcare, flexible work hours and part-time work, and training for mothers re-entering the workforce.
Beginning in the 19th Century, the main occupations for women included domestic servants, seamstresses, factory workers (food and clothing), shop assistants, teachers, nurses or clerical office work. With the introduction of apprenticeship schemes, women apprentices remained very rare, except in traditionally female trades such as women’s hairdressing. The historic undervaluing of work typically done by women is tracked by the following cartoons.
19th Century: Assisted immigrants
During the 19th Century, subsidised or free passages were offered to single women settlers prepared to work as domestic servants. About 12,000 female assisted immigrants arrived in the 1850s and 1860s when provincial governments organised immigration. Around 20,000 arrived under the central government’s scheme in the 1870s. Working conditions were often harsh: a 16-hour day, 6½ days a week, for low wages. Servants earned 10–12 shillings a week on average, plus full board. At the top of the scale, a female cook could earn 20 shillings a week – about the same as a farm labourer, but less than many shop assistants. (See Te Ara)
About half of the female workforce was in domestic service in 1880, but only about one-third was in 1900. Many left service to marry and others left for shop, hotel, office or factory jobs with better pay and free evenings and weekends. The Dunedin Tailoresses’ Union was the first women’s union, formed in 1889, which fought for shorter working hours, increased wages and the appointment of female factory inspectors by the Department of Labour.
1900s: Domestic Workers' Union
In 1906, at a meeting in Wellington, Marianne Tasker and supporters established a domestic workers’ union to improve pay and conditions under the Liberal government’s Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act (1894). Their call to introduce a 68-hour working week led to much debate and a counter-move by employers to form a 'Committee of Employers of Domestic Employees', as reported by Te Ara. It was not until the First Labour Government's 1936 amendment the 40-hour week and compulsory unionism were introduced.
Impact of Great Depression (1929 - 30s) on domestic service
During the 1930s Great Depression, many women and men were out of work. Although women were required to pay unemployment tax from 1931, they were not entitled to unemployment benefits and received almost no government support. Relief committees were set up, but sometimes they pressured women to take jobs as servants, for little or even no pay. (See Te Ara).
Impact of World War II on domestic service
During the Second World War "women were ‘manpowered’ into essential work during the war – and domestic service was not in that category." (Te Ara). As a consequence, whereas in 1936 there were 32,000 domestic servants; nine years later, at the end of the War, there were only 9,000.
During the 19th Century, European settlers brought with them the apprenticeship scheme, whereby young workers, mainly male, worked in trades such as building, printing or saddle-making. Under the Master and Apprentice Act 1865, an employer was expected to provide ‘sufficient and suitable’ food, clothing and bedding, and to ensure that the apprentice attended church. However, there were concerns that children as young as 12 years were being exploited as unskilled labour and not being paid whilst they learnt their trade; then being fired to avoid paying them the wage of a skilled worker. (See Te Ara article on Apprenticeships and trade training.)
The Apprenticeship Act 1923 was introduced for males followed by women in 1926 when the first female hairdressing apprenticeships were recognised. Voluntary local committees set standards - wages, hours and conditions, and period of apprenticeship which usually lasted three to five years, and included some training at technical schools (polytechnics) such as electrical engineering and the motor industry.
The outbreak of the Second World War and the demand for military equipment, saw women entering the manufacturing workforce in large numbers. As employers and the government assumed that women would leave those jobs at the end of the war, they were mostly restricted to simple tasks and gained very little trade training.
The Apprenticeship Act 1948 introduced national apprenticeship committees made up of industry and union representatives, with examinations set by the Trades Certification Board. Apprentices’ wages were set at a fixed proportion of a tradesman’s hourly rate, with each 1,000 hours equalling six months’ training. Whereas in the 1950s, 30% of all male school leavers were expected to enter a skilled trade by completing an apprenticeship, women apprentices remained very rare, except in traditionally female trades such as women’s hairdressing.
The Apprenticeship Act 1983 revised the outdated apprenticeship system and extended it to a wider range of people, including more women trainees. However, during the 1980s and 1990s the manufacturing sector shrank and unemployment rose sharply. Large public institutions which had traditionally trained hundreds of young people each year, became profit-oriented state-owned enterprises, such as the Post Office, New Zealand Railways and the Government Printing Office.
The Industry Training Act 1992 set up industry training organisations (ITOs) to take over apprenticeship training. The traditional apprenticeship contract was replaced with a training agreement between the trainee, the employer and the ITO. Traineeships became offered in new areas such as tourism and travel, social services, and sports, fitness and recreation. Training standards were assessed on the basis of competency instead of time served. Trade and advanced trade certificates were replaced by unit standard-based national certificates, which formed part of the National Qualifications Framework. The strategic leadership role of ITOs was recognised by a change to the Industry Training Act in 2002.
The Modern Apprenticeships scheme, which began in 2002, aimed to combine ITO training with traditional workplace-based apprenticeships, such as building and plumbing, as well as the public sector, retail, forestry and road transport. In the 2000s, women were still not well represented in workplace-based training, except for traditionally female occupations such as hairdressing.
From 1877 primary school teachers were paid according to their grading, which was determined by the roll size (per capita) of their school. Wide variations in staffing levels and teachers’ pay and conditions between education board regions prompted a royal commission in 1901. A national system of pay and staffing for primary schools was set up and the Education Department administered this from 1902. However, capitation continued to be used to fund secondary schools until 1920, when national pay scales were introduced for secondary teachers.
1891: Women teachers paid lessM* Udy is promising to set everything1 right with Mr:Muir says it is 'monstrous' that a lady teacher under the Board should only his new and impro...
National Library of New Zealand
In 1914 a national system of appointment and grading of teachers was adopted, and the Department took over the inspection of schools. That same year, the New Zealand Women Teachers’ Association was formed to advocate for equal pay, promotion of women to higher positions and inclusion of women in the team of school inspectors. When the Government Service Equal Pay Act 1960 was introduced, the Women Teachers’ Association was the first to take advantage of it and by 1962 women had the same opportunities and pay as men (See Te Ara). After the 1989 reforms to decentralise the governance of primary and secondary schools, the Ministry of Education provided school boards of trustees with operational, salary and property funding.
By the 1990s the New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) – the representative organisation for primary school teachers set up in 1883 – had a majority of women members. The New Zealand Post Primary Teachers' Association (PPTA) has represented teachers in secondary, area and intermediate schools for the past 60 years. By 2011 women teachers outnumbered men in both primary (82%) and secondary schools (58%).
The strive for pay parity between kindergarten / preschool, primary and secondary school teachers; and for school support staff has continued until this day, as illustrated by the following cartoonists. Also see DigitalNZ story: Teachers take strike action.
2010: Secondary teachers"They're disruptive, argumentative, no good at basic economics and hardly ever here!" "Yeah... worst bunch of teachers we've ever had!" 26 October ...
Alexander Turnbull Library
The Nurses’ Association started in 1909, but it was not regarded as a union – "it argued that nurses should be dedicated to their work, and opposed strikes and industrial action" (See Te Ara). The New Zealand Nurses’ Organisation (NZNO) was formed in 1993, when the Nurses’ Association and the private-sector Nurses’ Union (formed in 1973) amalgamated. From 1996 it included medical radiologists, technologists, scientific officers, pharmacists and dietitians. The NZNO continued to have a majority of women members – 94% in 2009.
A court case won a significant victory for care and support workers in the aged and disability residential care and home and community support services. In 2013, Christine Bartlett took her employer TerraNova to the Employment Court arguing that her industry paid her poorly as the workers were overwhelmingly women. The Court ruled that they could use the Equal Pay Act 1972 to argue for equal work for equal value. On 18 April 2017, a $2.048 billion settlement offer was made to 55,000 care and support workers for significant pay increases to be introduced over five years. (See NZ Law Society)
1963: State pay rise puts typist above the tradesmanLodge, Nevile Sidney, 1918-1989:All right! So I'm not the top money-earner around here any more, but I don't why I can't still be head of the house...
Alexander Turnbull Library
New Zealand was the first country to establish a national minimum wage in 1894. Under the Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act, registered unions had the exclusive right to represent all their members in industrial disputes with employers. The Court of Arbitration had the power to set wages and its decisions gradually established a nationwide system of ‘awards’, setting minimum wages and working conditions for particular groups of workers. The female minimum wage, for example, was 60% of the male minimum from 1945, increasing to 65% from 1949.
From 1 April 1946, there were separate minimum wage rates for men and women aged 21 years and over, excluding some general classes such as apprentices. For example, in the mid-1950s, the most a man could earn in the insurance industry was £727 per year; the most a woman could earn was £450. This age was reduced to 20 years in 1970. One minimum wage for all adults was introduced on 15 March 1977. Current minimum wage law is described in the Minimum Wage Act 1983.
Currently, there are three types of minimum wages for men and women - Adult, Starting-Out (previously Youth Rates) and Training (see details on the Employment New Zealand website). Figures from Statistics New Zealand showed record numbers of Kiwis migrating to Australia in 2012, which the NZ Council of Trade Unions attributed to economic difficulties and wages on average 20% higher than in NZ. At that time the Government was also planning to re-introduce a a youth pay rate which will see 16-to-19-year-olds making a minimum $10.80 per hour, or 80 percent of the adult minimum wage, which cartoonists captured.
Minimum wage comparisons with the salaries received by politicians and CEOs have continued to be the subject of much fodder by cartoonists.
In the NZ Herald's rankings of chief executive’s pay for all the companies on the NZX50 in August 2017, none of those companies listed any woman. Later that same year, a Westpac - Deloitte survey of 500 businesses found that only 29% of NZ's business leaders were women.
In the 2006 census, women were 47% of 1,986,000 paid workers, up from 30% in 1971. By 2009 union membership was down to 18% of the employed labour force, and women were a little over half of all union members (54%). As stated by Te Ara, "Occupational segregation had broken down to some extent. Significant numbers of women were working as lawyers, doctors and in senior positions in the public service. But many working women continued to work as nurses, teachers, shop assistants, in light manufacturing and as clerical workers." Although some women have broke through the glass ceiling, there is a still a way to go. A Radio New Zealand interview (2017), for example, noted that only around a quarter of partners at the country's 11 biggest law firms are women, despite female graduates outnumbering men since the 1990s.
2005: Susan Wood (TV One current affairs presenter)"We're having a whip round for Susan Wood. TVNZ are trying to cut her salary by one hundred thousand dollars..." "Let me empty this bedpan and I'll...
Alexander Turnbull Library