Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

White roses delivered to Parliament to mark Suffrage Day

Green MP Jan Logie receives a basket of roses from Camilla Belich, of the CTU, to mark 123 years since NZ women won the right to vote. New Zealand Herald photo by Mark Mitchell.
Green MP Jan Logie receives a basket of roses from Camilla Belich, of the CTU, to mark 123 years since NZ women won the right to vote. New Zealand Herald photo by Mark Mitchell.

White roses have been delivered to Parliament for each woman MP to mark 123 years since New Zealand women won the vote.

The Council of Trade Unions delivered the roses to Green Party MP Jan Logie to mark Suffrage Day - and to call for government action to ensure equal pay.

"The fact that 123 years on [and] we are still trying to get equal pay is unacceptable," Logie said after receiving the flowers on Parliament's forecourt. "I hope these roses inspire greatness in the House."

The CTU has called on each woman MP to take their rose into the debating chamber tomorrow.

The union wants the government to settle an equal pay claim taken by Kristine Bartlett on behalf of caregivers, allocate funding to settle future equal pay claims, and implement agreed equal pay principles.

In June a working group led by Governor-General-designate Dame Patsy Reddy announced that it had reached consensus on principles for addressing equal pay claims for any kind of work that is "predominantly performed by women" and has been "historically undervalued" because of gender-related factors such as "labelling of the work as 'women's work'".

This year's Budget included an unquantified contingent liability for extra costs both for an initial claim for 50,000 caregivers and for wider claims based on the new principles.

The Cabinet has not yet endorsed the principles, but approval in some form is expected given the consensus that has been reached and the authority of the next Governor-General.

A separate working group is negotiating over the first specific claim for caregivers which started with a claim by Lower Hutt rest home worker Kristine Bartlett.

New Zealand became the first nation in the world to grant women the right to vote in 1893.

To mark this year's Suffrage Day, Statistics NZ released figures highlighting the fact that voting-age women in New Zealand outnumbered men by about 137,000 at the 2013 Census.

Women are more likely than men to vote in general and local government elections, according to past Statistics NZ general social surveys.

- NZ Herald

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