April 21, 2006
NZEI Supports Scrapping Youth Rates And Increasing The Minimum Wage
The country’s largest education union, NZEI Te Riu Roa, supports the campaign to increase the minimum wage to $12 and a private members bill by Greens MP Sue Bradford to scrap youth rates.
Unions throughout the country are united in a bid to raise the adult minimum wage from $10.25 an hour to $12. NZEI Te Riu Roa fully supports this campaign and is also today lodging a submission with Parliament’s Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee, supporting a members’ bill by Greens MP Sue Bradford to scrap the youth rate of $8.20 an hour for 16 and 17 year olds.
“We support increasing the minimum wage and scrapping the youth rate,” says Colin Tarr, acting National President of NZEI Te Riu Roa. “That’s because every worker deserves to be paid a wage that enables them to support themselves and their family.”
“It’s particularly unfair to pay 16 and 17 year olds less for doing the same work as workers aged 18 and over,” says Colin Tarr. “It’s encouraging to see that there are employers who have recognised this, such as BP who have scrapped youth rates at the 92 service stations the company directly owns in New Zealand.”
Among NZEI’s 45,000 members are 10,000 school support staff, many of whom earn less in a year than workers employed on the current adult minimum wage.
There are a total of 21,000 support staff employed in primary and secondary schools who are among the lowest paid workers in the country.
“The vast majority of teacher aides, who make up 50% of school support staff, earn less than $16,000 a year,” says Colin Tarr. “This is because for teacher aides there is no work and therefore no income during school term breaks, most are employed for less than 40 hours a week and their pay rates start at just $11.84 an hour.”
The annual income of school support staff is more than $5000 less than a worker on the current adult minimum wage of $10.25 an hour, who is employed full time. And more than $1000 less than a 17 year old working full time on the current youth rate of $8.20 an hour
“School support staff are undertaking increasingly complex work, alongside teachers, in catering for children who have very challenging learning and behavioural needs,” says Colin Tarr. “Such low levels of annual pay along with little security of tenure directly impacts on the recruitment, retention and career development of these school personnel who play a vital role in assisting and facilitating the learning of our most needy students.”
NZEI is campaigning to improve the pay and conditions for school support staff by pressing the Government to establish a Ministerial Taskforce to develop a fairer and more effective system of funding their jobs.