Child, Youth and Family social workers are going to the Employment Relations Authority with a historic equal pay claim, the latest group demanding to be paid the same as men.
Their union, the Public Service Association, has filed the case today, saying social work is an occupation dominated by women and undervalued for years.
The case, filed under the 1972 Equal Pay Act, alleges social workers at CYF do not receive equal pay on the basis of gender and seeks a determination of what they should be paid.
A large meeting of foster carers in Auckland has heard details of major changes to how the state deals with troubled families.
“This is a monumental step to get equal pay for social workers, who have been underpaid for years,” says Erin Polaczuk, PSA national secretary.
This can be attributed to the workforce being well over 70 per cent women, she says.
“The work social workers do is crucial to the wellbeing of the next generation, and it’s important they are properly valued for it.”
Ms Polaczuk says social workers have been seeking equal pay for years and while their employer recognises the role is highly demanding both emotionally and physically, equal pay has still not been achieved.
The Government announced last month that it’s setting up a joint working group with unions and employers to look at the pay gap between men and women across the economy.
“We are hopeful that we will not need to pursue this case through the courts and that the government’s working group will deliver equal pay for social workers,” Ms Polaczuk says.
Meanwhile, negotiations are to be held with resthome caregivers on their equal pay claim while the working group proceeds.
Midwives also went to the High Court several weeks ago claiming equal pay under the Bill of Rights and last week hundreds of nurses walked off the job for equal pay.