Coalition for Equal Value Equal Pay

Coalition for Equal Value Equal Pay (CEVEP)

Equal pay in New Zealand from 1967 to 1987.


1967 to 1987

[ NACEW ]   [ Equal Pay Act ]   [ Difficulties ]   [ Coalition ]


National Advisory Council on the Employment of Women

In 1967, the National Advisory Council on the Employment of Women (NACEW) was established under the Labour Department Act 1954. One of NACEW's first actions was to form a Committee of Inquiry into the Implementation of Equal Pay in New Zealand, including the private sector. The Committee's 1971 report recommended that equal pay should apply to every remuneration rate by way of an Equal Pay Act, which would then prohibit discrimination in pay rates on the basis of gender. This report also commented on the limited range of occupations undertaken by women. Women's occupations broadly fell into the main groups of teachers, nurses, office workers, sales personnel and domestic workers. As noted by the 1971 Committee report, this narrow distribution of women workers was closely related to the inherent societal attitudes about the value of women's labour.

[ NACEW ]   [ Equal Pay Act ]   [ Difficulties ]   [ Coalition ]

Equal Pay Act 1972

The Equal Pay Act 1972 was passed in October of that year, extending the principle of equal pay to the private sector. Under this Act, equal pay was to be implemented over the following five years. The progress of equal pay was monitored through a series of government reports including Progress of Equal Pay in New Zealand (1975) and Equal Pay Implementation in New Zealand (1979). The latter report mentioned the important role of the Human Rights Commission in providing education and support for equal pay activities. By 1978, the minimum rate was standardised with both women and men to be paid at least $1.62 an hour. Equal payments of the unemployment and sickness benefits were enacted in 1979. The New Zealand Government in 1983 finally ratified the 1951 ILO Convention, which referred to equal pay for work of equal value. New Zealand is also a signatory to several other international instruments such as

[ NACEW ]   [ Equal Pay Act ]   [ Difficulties ]   [ Coalition ]

Difficulties in enforcing the Act

Despite these actions, there were increasing concerns about the difficulties in enforcing aspects of the 1972 Act. The concept of equal pay was interpreted very conservatively by the Arbitration Court and along with the lower levels of scrutiny by the Department of Labour, this Act still did not deliver full equal pay to women.

In February 1986, the Clerical Workers Union (CWA) took the first steps in rectifying this situation by taking a case to the Arbitration Court. CWA sought a ruling that employers should be directed to negotiate a claim for equal pay for work of equal value. The Court, stating that the awards in question had been accepted during the implementation of the 1972 Act and therefore a satisfactory level of compliance had been achieved, dismissed this case.

[ NACEW ]   [ Equal Pay Act ]   [ Difficulties ]   [ Coalition ]

Coalition for Equal Value for Equal Pay

In spite of the Court's rejection, this action acted as a springboard for equal pay with employees at several motor companies taking industrial action. Many people were only too aware that women in 1985 were still earning 22% less than men in ordinary hourly rates of pay. A seminar for 'Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value' was held at the Centre for Continuing Education, Victoria University of Wellington in April 1986. At this seminar, the beginnings of a national pay equity campaign evolved. A further meeting on 28 May 1986 led to the establishment of the Coalition for Equal Value for Equal Pay (CEVEP).

CEVEP quickly recognised the need to acquire grassroots support from the community including unionists, academics and bureaucrats to get the Government to look at changing the existing Equal Pay Act, which was not creating equal pay conditions.

Producing newsletters, media releases and holding meetings with politicians, CEVEP also developed strong relationships with women's organisations and unions, who in turn worked with their members to spread awareness of the pay equity cause. The Labour Government's reaction to the nationwide campaign, was to establish a three-phase study of equal pay beginning with a literature review in December 1986. In March 1987, the Equal Pay review phase one report was released with the phase two report released later in October.

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Last reviewed February 2004. This website created by First Bite of the Apple.