We have a Prime Minister who thinks people using food banks do so because they make poor choices and an Acting Minister of Women’s Affairs who thinks women like school support staff working in jobs that are undervalued and who are struggling with the family budget in the face of ever rising prices should be “grateful that there is a National Government focused on lifting economic performance, and ensuring the well being of families and communities”
They are all heart! They have no idea what it is really like for low and middle income New Zealanders!
In relation to Kate Wilkinson’s comments I say (a) there is no plan to lift economic performance, (b) the economy is going backwards – increasing unemployment and real wages falling, (c) her words will not give women confidence that this Government actually intends to do anything about the gender pay gap and (d) being grateful won’t help put food on the table or balance the budget.
Yesterday was Red Bag Day, a day started by Business and Professional Women in 1988 to highlight the gender pay gap internationally. The Minister cited the NZ Income Survey to say that the gender pay gap has closed but she then disputed the same statistics series when I outlined that it showed that real wages have declined, which of course makes a mockery of her crowing about the gender pay gap closing.
This Government have failed women in so many ways. In relation to pay equity they have scrapped the Pay Equity Unit, halted pay and employment equity investigations and failed to honour commitments to groups like Education Support Staff who work with special needs children. This is effectively ignoring the proven inequality this group faces. In tough economic times with high unemployment and reducing pay, low incomes due to discrimination have even greater impact on women and their families.
It is certainly inappropriate for the Acting Minister of Women’s Affairs to celebrate falling wages and to tell women they should be grateful.