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Meeting to discuss Alasdair Thompson cancelled

Published: 5:56AM Monday June 27, 2011 Source: ONE News

The Employers and Manufacturers' Association meeting to discuss the behaviour of Alasdair Thompson has been cancelled.

Thompson is under fire for comments he made last week about female productivity and periods.

Thompson told Newstalk ZB that there is a gender pay gap, but people only need "to look at who takes the most sick days", as to part of the reason for it.

"Once a month they have sick problems. Not all women, but some do. They have children, they have to take time off to go home and take leave," he said.

A new meeting date is yet to be decided.

The comments have drawn criticism from far and wide, with Prime Minister John Key the last to wade in.

Key describes Thompson's comments as "regrettable".

He says he has never noticed a difference in the number of sick days that men and women take.

Former Prime Minister Dame Jenny Shipley contacted Thompson's bosses to ask them to act decisively.

"Women fulfil a vital role in New Zealand business and the New Zealand economy," Shipley said.

Women's Affairs minister Hekia Parata said the comments represent a mindset that is "extremely dated".

Labour's Women's Affairs Spokesperson Carol Beaumont said the Government should be demanding an explanation from Thompson.

"I am sure women do take more time off to look after children - they do the lion's share of caring work - but to suggest they deserve to be paid less for doing so, or because they are having 'monthly sick days' is shameful," she said.

Angry protest

Angry protesters marched on the Auckland headquarters of the EMA, chanting "Alasdair Thompson is a jerk" before throwing tampons at the building.

Former Green MP Sue Bradford was among protesters in what was a small but vocal protest.

Bradford says Thompson belongs back in the 19th century, adding that everyone deserves equal pay for equal work in this country, no matter what their age and whether they are male or female.

Thompson has apologised "for my poor choice of words and bad judgment during the discussion about gender and productivity in the workplace.

"I realise my remarks offended many people," he said.

Thompson said he has always supported equal pay for equal work.

- with Newstalk ZB