Women less productive - EMA boss

Employers and Manufacturers Association chief executive jumps into debate over the gender pay gap - with both feet.

Yesterday, Green MP Catherine Delahunty released a private member's equal-pay bill that she says (if it ever gets before parliament) would  "give teeth" to current employment laws by improving the ability to test for gender-based discrimination.

This morning on Mike Hosking’s NewstalkZB show, Council of Trade Unions (CTU) president Helen Kelly discussed the bill with Employers & Manufacturers' Association chief executive Alasdair Thompson.

Mr Thompson jumped into the pay-gap debate with both feet, stating it was simply a fact of life that women took more sick days, and were less productive - in part because of their "monthly" problem.

Shortly after the programme, Ms Kelly called for Mr Thompson to step down, adding "Leaders spouting this sort of crap makes it very, very difficult for women to assert themselves and to suggest there might be discrimination.

"I think anybody in a public position like he is should be showing leadership, not reinforcing old stereotypes like he is."

A transcript (courtesy Kiwipolitico; audio is on ZB's website here):

Alasdair Thompson: “Let me get down to tin tacks here. It is unfortunate, if you like, that men and women are different –”

Helen Kelly: [incredulous laughter]

AT: “– they are. The fact is, women have babies, they take time out of their careers to have babies. Women have — look, I don’t like saying this, this is how contentious this is, but here’s a fact of life.

"If you really want to keep some statistics, look at who takes the most sick leave. Why do they take the most sick leave? Women do in general. Why? Because, ah, you know, once a month they have sick problems.

"Not all women, but some do. They have children that they have to take time off to go home and take leave of. Therefore their productivity — not their fault, it’s … it may be because they haven’t got it sorted out with their partners, where the partners take more responsibility for what happens outside work.

"There are all of these issues, and none of this is covered in these statistics that this bill wants to sort out. Now, I’m sorry, I don’t like saying these things because it sounds like I’m sexist, but it’s a fact of life.”

HK: “Sure does, Alasdair, I’m glad you said them, it’s fantastic. I let you go on that one.”

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