NZ sexism row: EMA boss Alasdair Thompson sacked

A woman uses a computer keyboard (file photo) New Zealand women are paid about 12% less than men, recent figures showed

The head of a major New Zealand employers' group has been fired after he caused public outrage by linking women's productivity to menstruation.

Alasdair Thompson of the Employers' and Manufacturers' Association made his comments on a radio show last month.

Mr Thompson said women were paid less than men because they took more sick leave and "have children they have to take time off to go home" to care for.

Prime Minister John Key said Mr Thompson's dismissal was inevitable.

"I don't think it's surprising," Mr Key told reporters. "In the end that's a matter for EMA, but I'm not shocked by it."

Asked if the decision took too long, Mr Key said employment matters were often complex and it was as matter for the EMA.

"But in the end this situation he got himself into didn't look like it was sustainable."

'Brain explosion'

Mr Thompson's comments were made during a NewstalkZB interview on 23 June, during a debate on recent figures that showed New Zealand women were paid about 12% less than men.

"Who takes the most sick leave? Women do, in general," he said.

"Why? Because once a month they have sick problems. Not all of them, but some do.

"They have children that they have to take time off to go home and take leave of. Therefore it's their productivity. It's not their fault."

He continued: "I'm sorry, I don't like saying these things because it sounds like I'm sexist, but it's the facts of life."

Mr Thompson later apologised for his comments.

Minister of Labour Kate Wilkinson described the comments at the time as a "brain explosion".

Women's Affairs Minister Hekia Parata said on Wednesday that people would be pleased there had been a resolution.

"I think that it's been pretty clear from the response that the remarks made were unacceptable to a wide range of people and my own experience of talking to businesses and across the country is it was a generally felt view that they were unacceptable," she said.

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