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Protesters throw tampons at EMA offices

Published: 1:12PM Saturday June 25, 2011 Source: ONE News

Angry protesters marched on the Auckland headquarters of the Employers and Manufacturers' Association, chanting "Alasdair Thompson is a jerk" before throwing tampons at the building.

Former Green MP Sue Bradford has also been getting amongst it at the small but vocal protest in Newmarket.

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.

Northern chief executive Alasdair Thompson is under fire for comments he made earlier this week about women's productivity and their 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 the reason for it.

He says women's productivity, in general, is lower than men's and while women might be more productive on an hourly basis, some take sick days when they get their period.

"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.

Unite Union spokesman Joe Caralan says about 40 people marched from the top of Symonds Street to the EMA offices in Khyber Pass Road.

Caralan adds that it's a loud and noisy picket culminating in the throwing of 200 tampons.

Thompson's comments have drawn criticism form all corners, with Former Prime Minister Dame Jenny Shipley contacting 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.

Thompson apologised yesterday "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

Have you got pictures or video of the protest in Auckland today? If so could you please send some through to news@tvnz.co.nz

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