July 22, 2005
School Support Staff Told Govt Response To Funding Petition
Support staff who work in the country's primary and secondary schools are to be briefed on the Government's response to their 35,000 signature petition that highlighted the problems caused by bulk funding of their jobs.
NZEI Te Riu Roa, has organised 102 meetings spread throughout the country that start on Monday (July 25) and continue for two weeks until Friday August 5. Each of the country's 2600 schools has been asked to send a support staff representative to a meeting in their area who will then report back to the other support staff at their school.
Last month school support staff presented a petition to Associate Education Minister, Parekura Horomia, that was signed by 35,000 New Zealanders. It called for a Ministerial Working Party to develop a fairer and more effective system of funding their jobs because the current bulk funding system is not working.
NZEI has 10,000 support staff members who work as school managers, teacher aides, special education assistants, librarians, science and IT technicians, kaiarahi i te reo and in 80 other jobs in schools. They are among the lowest paid and most vulnerable workforces in the country.
This is because their salaries are bulk funded from each school's operations grant, the same pool of money schools use to buy all the equipment and pay their running costs. Principals and school boards find it very difficult to spread the grant across all their costs and pay their support staff.
"NZEI staff will be telling the support staff who attend the meetings that the Government has initiated a review of school operations funding and that the union has been invited to participate in the review," says NZEI National President, Colin Tarr.
"We also have a statement in writing from the Education Minister that the review will include an analysis of the adequacy of current support staff funding arrangements."
Colin Tarr says school support staff, principals, teachers and everyone else who supported the petition and is backing the campaign for a fairer and more effective funding system can take a great deal of credit for convincing the Government to go down this track.
"The fact that the Ministry of Education is carrying out the review and that the NZEI is involved, shows that the petition and other campaign activities have had an impact," says Colin Tarr.
As well as being briefed on the Government's response to the petition support staff representatives who attend the meetings will be updated on preparations for negotiations to review their collective agreements, which are due to start on August 24.