About 200 people braved freezing temperatures outside Parliament today to protest the lack of pay equity.
The protest was sparked by the Government's scrapping of a pay equity investigation and its disbanding of the pay and employment equity unit at the Labour Department. The unit was established to address the pay gap between men and women - a gap which still exists more than 36 years after equal pay legislation was passed.
Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly challenged the Government to tell protesters how they planned to close the pay gap.
''We challenge them to tell us how they are going to work with employers and unions across both public and private sectors to reduce the pay gap,'' she said.
The failure of Women's Affairs Minister Pansy Wong to front to protesters brought cries of ''shame, shame''.
Labour's women's affairs spokeswoman Sue Moroney told those gathered women earned on average 12 percent less than men. Many protesters held placards of $10 notes, with the 10 crossed out and replaced with $8.80 to represent the inequity.
''Today's rally will send a clear message to the Government that they need to take the issue of pay equity seriously and start facing up to this issue rather than trying to brush it under the carpet,'' she said.
''The Government can simply not use the recession as an excuse for failing to act on pay equity.''
Green MP Catherine Delahunty also addressed the protest, as did New Zealand Educational Institute member Lewellyn Sumenko-Bucknell, Angela McLeod of the New Zealand Federation of Business and Professional Women and University Students' Association co-president Sophia Blair.
A protest was also held in Auckland.
The Public Service Association has complained to the Human Rights Commission, saying that axing the pay equity investigation, aimed at closing a pay gap for Child Youth and Family (CYF) social workers, breached the Human Rights Act and was an act of discrimination against women.
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