To rebuild better, we need to end inequality. This means better pay and conditions for those in work, improved welfare for those out of work and properly resourced Māori-led Māori community and economic development.
This crisis has highlighted the essential work that E tū members do. Despite this, they continue to be low paid and undervalued. Women have fared worst with data provided by Statistics NZ showing 80% of hospital workers were women. Most residential home carers and community support workers are also women. Historic gender-based pay inequity plagues these sectors and many others.
Fair Pay Agreements, ethical social procurement, and a Living Wage are part of rebuilding better. The campaign for Fair Pay Agreements aims to set fair, basic employment conditions across an industry, based on the employment standards that apply in that industry. The Living Wage ensures that all families do not just survive, but thrive in our society. Ethical social procurement, delivered through transformed government procurement arrangements with a central union role, will mean that core and local government contracts place workers and their needs ahead of cost-cutting measures.
Inequality is deeply embedded in New Zealand and across the world. COVID-19 has shown us that the role of government is important. Active government and strong public services get us through times of crisis and are also vital to counter rampant inequality across society.
In the aftermath of the immediate crisis, we need the government to implement the recommendations of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group, including benefit level increases, and individualising benefits, so that, for example, if a worker loses their job they are entitled to income support regardless of whether their partner is in or out of work.
We support a strong focus on supporting Māori community development and good jobs in Māori enterprises. In sectors like primary health and disability, this means funding increases for Māori and iwi providers to ensure decent wages and in other sectors, regulations around collective and/or cooperative ownership of land and businesses need to allow for a model of investing in the economy that meets Māori aspirations.
We can rebuild better by making sure the most vulnerable and marginalised in our society are better protected than they ever have been.