KRISTINE BARTLETT
Equal pay campaigner
1949-

Trailblazing campaigner who launched a five-year court battle for equal pay

More than 55,000 low-paid and support workers – and many more caregivers in years to come – owe Kristine Bartlett a huge thank you.

The Lower Hutt woman has been a champion for equal pay; including being the very public face of a successful campaign to see pay in that sector rise from $15.75 an hour, to $23.50, with further pay rises over five years to $27 an hour.

Bartlett and the E Tu union first lodged a claim with the Employment Relations Authority in 2012, alleging her then employer was in breach of the Equal Pay Act of 1972.

Five years later, in April 2017, the Government of the time announced the landmark settlement in Equal Pay Care.

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Bartlett was recognised for her commitment to closing the wage gap for care workers in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours, receiving a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Her citation stated she was being recognised "for more than 20 years' experience in the aged-care industry and has been an advocate for working women across the care and support sector".

She described the honour as "overwhelming", adding: "I am just an ordinary woman who likes to get on with it. If someone told me I'd be here in six years I would have laughed and said 'Yeah right'."

Previously she had been named the New Zealander of the Year for her campaigning.