The “sun is shining” for caregiver and equal pay campaigner Kristine Bartlett and female workers everywhere in the wake of the Equal Pay Amendment Bill which passed late on Thursday night.
The amendment, which was passed at 11.59am on July 23, will now make it easier for workers to raise a pay equity claim and help parties reach a settlement without going through the court system.
It’s welcome news for Kristine, a former rest home carer, who fought for years to secure the Care and Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlement Agreement in 2017.
The settlement confirmed that the low rates of pay in the care and support sector were the result of systematic, gender-based discrimination.
Kristine, who is newly retired, says the new amendment “hits the nail on the head”.
“The sun is shining down on me today. Now those low-paid women workers can fight for their rights without going to court.
“The new law is now in place after eight years, after all the hard work from all the union members, supporters, and women’s coalition groups. We’ve finally done it in the year 2020.”
Kristine says although it took her awhile to understand the case she was fighting, when she did, she wondered why it hadn’t been done “donkey’s years ago”.
“I’ll never forget the first pay on my site and the look on the workers’ faces when they got that pay increase – their whole lives changed. Seeing these girls with their heads held high, saying, ‘We’re getting paid what we’re worth now.’”
E tū Assistant National Secretary Annie Newman says bill’s amendment is a fantastic example of how collective action is the way to make real change.
“This is an incredible achievement for all those, including Kristine, who have worked so hard to secure equitable, fair pay for women workers, after years of gender-based discrimination.”