Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Key on pay equity: support in theory, oppose in practice

Alasdair Thompson has put equal pay firmly on the political agenda, making it something the government has to have an opinion on. And in response, John Key has given us the usual platitudes: he supports equal pay, but he's not actually going to do anything to make it happen. He's just fine with the current glacial progress, which will see women wait another 30 years for the equality we promised them 40 years ago. The difference between this and opposition is a very fine line indeed, especially when he starts making excuses for the current unequal state of affairs:

The principle of the bill was already reflected in the Equal Pay Act and the Human Rights Act, he said.

"We also would have real concerns if it was divisive in the workplace or had unintended consequences.

I wouldn't say we support the [bill], but we'll have a look at it."

Mr Key said there were "a lot of reasons" why men were paid more than women, and he hoped people were not being paid differently just because of their gender.

"I don't know if they are or they aren't. I don't have any data on that."

Believe it or not, there's actually quite a lot of material on this, which indicates that that is what is happening. When female graduates are being paid less than men with identical qualifications within a year of employment, it tells you that sexism is at work. As for equality being "divisive", what's divisive is it not existing, people being paid more just because they have a penis. Key, being favoured under this arrangement, is naturally comfortable with it. Those of us who care about fairness shouldn't be.