Courts finally give the poorest workers what the Government wouldn’t and the Unions couldn’t


Some thoughts on the amazing win for workers announced yesterday.

Firstly congratulations to Kristine Bartlett and the mostly female 55,000 care workers who have finally been shown the dignity and respect they are so long overdue. The work they perform is critical to our social infrastructure and they deserve to be treated far better than they have.

It is a day they should celebrate.

It is hollow in the extreme for the National Government who fought this process to attempt to look magnanimous now it’s been signed but I also think the outcome  highlights how difficult a position the Union’s  have been left in.

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Let’s remember this win was won by the Courts who ruled the Equal Pay Act actually meant something. The Government didn’t want to give these workers the respect they deserved and the Unions couldn’t get it it for them because they didn’t have the strength to force industrial action.

The Union who originally launched this case, the SFW Union was swallowed up and amalgamated  into E Tu before this deal was finalised so this isn’t a case of militant Unions with too much power running amok.

That’s not to say the Unions didn’t put together an amazing case and fought for their members, but it was ultimately a win won by the Courts and their surprising interpretation of the Equal Pay Act because legal action is the only tactic Unions can use that has any real muscle.

Any new Labour led Government coming into power in September must not allow this win to minimise the desperate need to give Unions more negotiating powers than sending in the lawyers.

That aside, great day for worker rights.




  1. There remain unanswered questions to this “deal”.

    1. Why is it not back-dated when MPs regularly have their pay-increases backdated?

    2. Which workers will qualify and will it be determined by the employer?

    3. Most important, the amount is $2 billion “spread over five years”. What does mean? Does that mean that any pay increase will be conducted annually? Which means any increase could be swallowed up and negated by inflation.

    I won’t be celebrating until I read the fine print.

    I sense fish-hooks in the detail.

    • I totally agree Frank.

      I also have questions:

      Why was this settled in election year?( of which the answer is obvious)
      Why was the policy of increasing police numbers implemented in election year?( of which the answer is obvious).
      Why were any of the above not implemented , say, last year or two years ago?

      Only the gullible will be fooled. And yes Frank, there will be fish-hooks, just like the “if you give your vote back to us, we will build your bridges Northland”.

    • Indeed, Frank. National is not known for it’s generosity and what it gives with one hand, it covertly takes away with the other. Let’s see what these fish hooks are, eh?

  2. totally agree Frank Macskasy, it aint over until the Fat lady sings, I’m not sure why Jonathon Coleman describes this land mark decision as a great reward to the workers in this industry when it really is paying people what they are worth, no more no less, and this phenomenal portrayal by media TVNZ, NZ Herald et al as being massive and the biggest win in living memory makes it appear that this industry Wins at the expense of others, never any genuine empathy for those that most deserve it

  3. Let’s not forget the even poorer workers being paid less than the minimum wage by exploitative employers, including those who pay their own wages in the hopes of gaining PR.

  4. This is great news for all women workers!….and in particular women working in the caring professions looking after the elderly!

  5. Watching English’s speech yesterday made me want to throw a rock through the television. “We’re giving a generous pay increase to some of New Zealand’s lowest paid workers… because it’s an election year and we have to make some embarrassingly transparent pretense of actually giving a shit, even though we don’t, and haven’t for years and years.”

    Well done, Bill. You’re a regular Mother Theresa, mate.

  6. I have learned this some time ago, to deal to the bastards in power, and the business and employer and other lobbies, the only really effective way is to take them to court.

    Forget even taking matters to watchdogs, that is when government is doing wrong, they have Crown Law to defend them and their actions, and force you to go through the stages up to the Supreme Court. Who has the resources, the patience, the determination, I ask? Very few do, but this battle for better wages for carers was one example, how you can beat the bastards by taking them to court and by threatening more court actions.

    Our useless top watchdog, the Ombudsman:

    What to watch out for next, re this topic:

    Now we must look for all the back-doors the government will create for itself, to minimise the costs.

    They are good at it too, just look at how family carers fared years ago.

    • Mike they are already claiming credit despite the fact ( not reported ) that they were assembling a team of lawyers to fight this all the way.

      They make me sick.

      Frank you have raised some very pertinent question’s.

      “Fish hook’s indeed.

      Its like santa promising you a bike when you ask for one but find when you un wrap it it’s missing its wheels and warranty.

    • well it is up to the Opposition Parties to hammer out the reasons for this women’s win…it was the secular courts for justice !

      …and not Catholic Bill English

      ….remember it was the Catholic Church which for a very long time opposed women’s rights to work outside the family ….and vehemently opposed equal pay for women

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