March 29, 2005
From NZEI Te Riu Roa
For Immediate Use
School Support Launch Petition At Pay Claims Meetings
Support staff who work in the country's primary and secondary schools will start two weeks of meetings tomorrow (March 30) at which they'll discuss a claim for a 6% across the board pay rise and launch a petition calling for a fairer and more effective way of funding their jobs.
Their union, NZEI Te Riu Roa, has organised 123 meetings throughout the country. They start tomorrow in Auckland, Wellington, Feilding and Stoke, near Nelson, and continue until Friday April 15.
NZEI has 9600 support staff members working in more than 2500 primary and secondary schools. They work as teacher aides, special education assistants, school secretaries and executive officers, librarians, science and IT technicians, physiotherapists, nurses, sports co-ordinators and in more than 80 other jobs.
"School support staff have little job security and have low pay rates. Their salaries start at just $21,000 a year, even though schools can't operate without them," says NZEI Te Riu Roa National President, Colin Tarr
"This is why the package they'll discuss at their meetings includes a claim for 6% pay rise, along with other claims that will provide much needed improvements to their working conditions."
"The problem support staff have is that even if the Government agrees to a 6% pay rise their school's won't be able pay them the increase because of the way their jobs are currently funded."
"This is why they'll be launching a petition at their claims meetings calling on the Government to establish a Ministerial Working Party to develop a fairer and more effective way of funding their jobs."
Currently support staff are bulk funded from each school's operation's grant. This is the same pool of money principals and boards use to pay maintenance costs and buy all the equipment and resources that a school needs. School managers find it almost impossible to pay their running costs and their support staff from the same fund. As a result support staff are low paid and live with the on-going threat of their job be axed, or their pay being cut, because their hours have been reduced to enable their managers to pay the school's bills or buy equipment.
"The Government has to recognise that the current system is not working and that there is a desperate need for a new system that is fairer and more effective, not only for support staff, but for school managers, teachers and students," says Colin Tarr.
Colin Tarr will be attending the support staff claims meeting at the Stoke Field Complex, south of Nelson, tomorrow (March 30) to formally launch the petition calling on the Government to establish a Ministerial Working Party to develop a new funding system for support staff jobs.
He will be available to talk to media at 12.30pm at the end of the meeting.
Copies of the petition will be distributed at each of the 123 claims meetings.
An attachment with a full list of the meetings with dates, times and venues is provided with this release. They are not open to the media but reporters and photographers are welcome to talk to NZEI staff and support staff representatives at the end of the meetings.
An attachment with a two page information sheet on the support staff funding issue is also provided with this release.