July 21, 2006
School Support Staff Vote On New Claims
Support staff working in the country’s 2579 schools are attending 163 Paid Union Meetings (PUMs), throughout the country, to discuss and vote on new claims for improvements in their pay and working conditions.
The meetings, spread from Kaitaia to Invercargill, begin on Monday (July 24) and continue for three weeks until August 10. They’ve been organised by NZEI Te Riu Roa, which has more than 10,000 support staff members working in primary and secondary schools.
There are more than 200 support staff job titles
and their work includes teacher aides, office managers,
finance managers, librarians, ICT and science technicians,
kaiarahi i te reo
(fluent Maori speakers) therapists and nurses.
The support staff will be using their PUMs to discuss and vote on the claims their negotiating team will table when their collective employment agreement is renegotiated in October.
“We’ll also be updating them on the Ministry of Education’s review of school operational funding that NZEI is involved in,” says NZEI Te Riu Roa National President, Irene Cooper.
The review includes an analysis of the current system of funding support staff from each school’s operations grant. This is a lump sum of money each school receives to cover all their operational costs, like purchasing supplies, maintaining the buildings and paying support staff salaries.
It’s clear this bulk funding of support staff is failing,” says NZEI Te Riu Roa National President, Irene Cooper. “That’s because schools struggle to meet all their operational costs and pay their support staff from the ops grant.”
As a result schools are sometimes forced to cut a support staff workers’ hours, usually a teacher aide, to balance their budget.
“Cuts in a teacher aide’s hours mean cuts in education programmes for kids,” says Irene Cooper. That’s unacceptable, which is why NZEI is campaigning for a fairer and more effective way of funding support staff.”
NZEI Te Riu Roa has also begun developing claims for the 26,000 primary teachers who belong to the union. Their collective agreement is being renegotiated next year.
The union has organised 89 meetings, that a primary teacher from each school will attend. They’ll be reporting on discussions teachers have held at their worksites, on issues such as their workload and career pathways. These meetings are being held outside school hours and run over the same period as the support staff PUMs, from Monday (July 24) to August 10.
A list of the support staff Paid Union Meetings is issued with this release. They are not open to the media but reporters are welcome to talk to NZEI staff and support staff representatives at the end of the meetings.