• Jenny Shipley
Women's Affairs

"The challenge of closing the gender pay gap rests in the hands of individuals" the Minister of Women's Affairs Jenny Shipley said today.

"On the 25th anniversary of the passing of the Equal Pay Act it is ironic that in the teaching profession, with its large proportion of women workers, it is the PPTA that is holding out against the principle of equal pay.

"The Government is committed to providing a unified pay system for primary and secondary school teachers to deliver equal pay for work of equal value. Currently 79 per cent of primary teachers are women, compared with 53 per cent of secondary teachers.

"The union movement, quite rightly, sees pay equity as an important issue. I challenge the PPTA to put an end to its muscle-flexing positioning and show it is prepared to do what it can to contribute to closing the gender pay gap through agreeing to the establishment of a unified pay scale.

"Prescriptive legislation imposing a restrictive formula is not the answer in today's modern, flexible job market. Legislation can never overcome what the workforce is unwilling to entertain. The Ministry of Women's Affairs is looking at a number of options for progress towards closing the gender pay gap.

"We are not alone in being challenged by this issue, as it is a question that is perplexing most developed nations," Mrs Shipley said.

Currently, women earn 80.5 per cent of men's total hourly earnings. In Australia, the pay gap is 80 per cent.

"While this is not good enough, it will only change when competing parts of the labour market allow those changes to occur," Mrs Shipley concluded.