Special Education Staff Taking Industrial Action
More than 600 special education field staff employed by the Ministry of Education are taking industrial action after eight months of negotiations have failed to deliver an acceptable pay offer.
The field staff include psychologists, special education advisors, speech language therapists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, early intervention teachers, advisors on deaf students and kaitakawaenga who work with Maori students and their whanau.
They work with students at early childhood, primary and secondary level with a range of physical, behavioural and other special educational needs. They also provide support for their families and staff in the schools and early childhood education centres the children attend.
They are members of NZEI Te Riu Roa, which also represents early childhood teachers, primary teachers and principals, support staff in primary and secondary schools and advisers in the tertiary sector.
“The special education field staff are angry and rightly so,” says NZEI Te Riu Roa National President, Bruce Adin.
“They have been trying to negotiate a new collective agreement since February but the Ministry of Education has failed to recognise their claim to have their pay aligned with their fellow teaching professionals.”
“They do difficult and demanding work that is vital to ensuring all children in New Zealand receive a quality education. They are frustrated and angry that the Ministry is failing to recognise this.”
The field staff are seeking a single salary scale that takes account of their qualifications and experience and are also claiming an across the board pay rise of 5%.
From today they are taking the following industrial action A ban on taking on new students A ban on handling funding data for children with special needs A ban on filing data returns A ban on using their own vehicles to do special education work. A ban on travelling to jobs outside of work time A ban on doing work outside of working hours A ban on weekend work A ban on work with agencies outside the Ministry of Education
The work bans will continue indefinitely
“The special education field staff are dedicated professionals who are committed to helping their students receive a quality education. It is a measure of their anger and frustration with the Ministry of Education at the lack of progress in their pay negotiations that they are taking this industrial action,” says Bruce Adin.