CEVEP... coalition for equal value, equal pay



Elizabeth Orr

Elizabeth Orr is one of five women who received an inaugural 'Inspiring Union Women' Award from the NZ Council of Trade Unions on 10 July 2015.

Helen Kelly, NZCTU, presents the award to Elizabeth Orr.

Elizabeth Orr has been a leader in pay equity and equal pay for more than 50 years. She was instrumental in establishing the 1972 Equal Pay Act and has continued to advocate for the Act and its importance for New Zealand women. She is an active and valued member of the Campaign for Equal Value, Equal Pay.

In the 1960s, she was a member of the Joint Committee of Women and Employment, formed by the Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs, Federation of University Women, National Council of Women and the YWCA to campaign for equal pay and employment opportunities in the 1960s. She was at the first meeting of the National Advisory Council on the Employment of Women (NACEW) in 1967, becoming a member and later a patron.
The Equal Pay Act was passed with a five year implementation period, and Elizabeth was on the 1978/9 Review Committee. She takes the unwavering stand that the 1972 Act covers equal pay for work of equal value, as well as equal pay for women and men doing the same job. 'That was certainly the Act's intention, though it was never properly carried out'. She has long held that the Court's interpretation of the Act in the 1986 Clerical Workers Union case was erroneous. Her written articles give a fascinating and relevant insights into this history - see Papers. In 2003 she wrote in regard to equal pay for work of equal value, 'For some 20 years the Equal Pay Act has been criticised as ineffective. The evidence...suggests that the limited success of the Act may have arisen as much from the behaviour of those responsible for implementing it, as from the legislation itself.' In 2004 she and Margaret Long, both well into their 70s, appeared for a parliamentary committee to help avert the replacement of the 1960 and 1972 Equal Pay Acts with provisions in the Employment Relations Act that would cover equal pay for women and men in the same job only.

In 2013-15, Elizabeth's long historical knowledge has contributed to the successful legal arguments made by Kristine Bartlett and the Service & Food Workers Union to the Employment Court and Appeal Court.

Elizabeth Orr was a ground breaker in equal opportunities herself. She was the first woman chancellor of Victoria University 1991 to 1995. She came on the Victoria University Council in 1986 from being executive secretary of the Association of University Teachers and was known at the time for her commitment to equal opportunity issues, especially relating to women.


Wellington CEVEP members Moira Dwyer, Linda Hill, Elizabeth Orr, Rachel Brown, Prue Hyman, Martha Coleman and Carol Beaumonth at the presentation.


www.cevepnz.org.nz 18 July 2015