Is New Zealand the way we want it?

Is New Zealand the way we want it?

If we want our country to become the way we hope and wish it could be then it is  important to make our voices heard and do everything we can to advocate for women and to advance the status of women.

Thank you to all the members who have been sending in your thoughts, ideas, experiences and reasoned arguments to include in our recent submissions.  It is through your efforts that we follow through on our BPW vision:  “To achieve a just and equal status for women in all levels and areas of society where decisions are taken in true partnership with men, based on a mutual respect, for a more balanced and peaceful world.”

The Employment Relations Amendment Bill 2013

Our federation is concerned about the changes proposed in The Employment Relations Amendment Bill 2013 (ERA Bill) and so we are putting in a submission and have requested the opportunity to make an oral submission.  Our interest in this Bill is because we are committed to representing the interests of working women and advancing and empowering women in the workplace. This is reinforced by our membership of the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) which holds as one of its principles “ensuring the health, safety and well-being of all women and men workers”.

There are significant amendments to the Employment Relations Act 2000 (the Act) proposed in the ERA Bill and much depends on the definition of the word “fair”. The use of the word “fair” presupposes an equal negotiating and trusting relationship between the employer and the employee.  However in most employee/employer situations there is a distinct imbalance of power that will tip “fairness” in favour of the employer.  This does not bode well for New Zealand’s most vulnerable employees and in particular vulnerable part-time employees, who are generally women.

Changes to part 6A of the Act are about continuity of employment for vulnerable employees and statistics from the 2006 Census indicated that 68 per cent of cleaners and laundry workers were women and 64% of food preparation assistants were women.  As so many of New Zealand businesses employ fewer than nineteen employees there will be no protection for the majority of these workers.  BPW NZ is concerned about the impact of this on so many workers while balancing this against the viability of the employer’s business.  We see that the MBIE Regulatory Impact Statement, April 2013 notes that the benefits of having special continuity for employment protection for the specified workers are likely to outweigh any costs and we believe this to be the case.

You will find our submission on the BPW NZ website after the 25th July.  Meanwhile if you know of anecdotes and experiences of workers which relate to this Bill which can be used in our oral submission please contact me at fvp@bpwnz.org.nz

Constitution Conversation submission

This submission will go in on the 31st July and will focus on our aims and vision as quoted above.  We are making many comments on the Human Rights Act questions in this submission and the need for gender impact analysis on new legislation.

This submission will be on the BPW NZ website after the 31st July.

Submission on priorities in Pharmac funding

Pharmac last reviewed its Operating Policies and Procedures in 2005 and this includes the criteria for deciding which pharmaceuticals are available for public subsidy.   They are now asking for public submission on how funding should be decided.  BPW NZ has policy in this area and will be making a submission.  You can find more information at: http://www.pharmac.health.nz/about/operating-policies-and-procedures/decision-criteria-consultation

If you would like to be involved in providing personal insights, experience or expertise for this submission (and just airing your opinions!) please contact Hellen Swales, Legislation Task Force Leader at hellen.swales@slingshot.co.nz .  Hellen will forward further information plus questions to answer.  Responses will need to be in  before the 16th of August.

Your input would be very much appreciated.

There are a number of other submissions coming up this year and by presenting our views we can help change the future for all New Zealand women, their children and their  grandchildren.  So please consider getting involved with so many passionate and concerned women who make up the Legislation Task Force

Vicky Mee,

Vice President Issues

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