Embattled business leader Alasdair Thompson has apologised again for saying women get paid less than men because they take sick days "once a month".
Thompson, chief executive of the Employment and Manufacturers Association, released an "unreserved, unqualified apology" to media today saying his comments on a radio show yesterday were misplaced and irrelevant.
"I apologise for my poor choice of words and bad judgment during the discussion about gender and productivity in the workplace," Thompson said.
"I realise my remarks offended many people."
Thompson said he has always supported equal pay for equal work.
"Although this experience has been very painful to me, it has also served as a valuable lesson - one I shall never forget."
Thompson also apologised for his comments yesterday, but then attempted to defend them in a television interview last night.
"I'm not that unhappy with what I said...some women have immense problems with their menstruation - immense problems.
"You know they can pop a lot of paracetamol and drag themselves into work, but it's hard for them." That was only a small issue in terms of workplace productivity, he said.
The EMA will meet on Monday to discuss Thompson's future.
Former PM enters debate
Former Prime Minister Dame Jenny Shipley has also chimed into the debate, saying she has contacted Thompson's bosses and asked them to act decisively.
She said she wrote to Thompson expressing her concern over his comments and asking him to provide statistics to support his claims.
"Women fulfil a vital role in New Zealand business and the New Zealand economy," Shipley said.
"It is these issues EMA should be championing not the absurd and demeaning arguments expressed yesterday."
Women's Affairs minister Hekia Parata said the comments represent a mindset that is "extremely dated".
"The comments are untrue, unhelpful and unfortunate," she said.
The Public Service Association today released statistics showing that while women take more sick leave than men, the difference was just 1.6 days a year.
The figures from the State Services Commission show that in 2010 men took on average 6.8 days sick and domestic leave annually while women took 8.4 days.
"Given that the majority of responsibility for children and other family members falls on women, I'm surprised there isn't a larger difference in the amount of days taken," said PSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott.
EMA director Laurie Margrain told ONE News the comments were unacceptable.
Margrain said he is yet to hear the original interview, but if they are as reported, he believes them to be inappropriate and unacceptable.
"Those are not views that I would expect him to hold, in fact they're views I thought he strongly would not hold.
"He is a strong advocate for equal pay and I've never heard any suggestion that he's been sexist in anyway previously."
Margrain will be questioning Thompson about the issue at the association's next board meeting.
Dr Rachel Morrison from Auckland University of Technology told TV ONE's Breakfast there is no evidence to suggest women are less productive than men in the workforce.
"I think it's a real shame, returning to work after having children is hard enough without these kinds of stereotypes held by people in quite a lot of authority."
But Auckland councillor Cameron Brewer said while Thompson's comments were stupid, the board should back their man.
"He doesn't deserve to lose his job that he's so good at and that he's been such an advocate for Auckland and business issues so successfully, this is one relatively small mistake in quite a long and illustrious career."
The EMA's Communications Manager Gilbert Peterson said the EMA
board president Graham Mountfort will call a board meeting
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