NZEI TE RIU ROA
FRIDAY AUGUST 11, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE USE
Schools Support Staff Endorse Claims
Several thousand school support staff have endorsed a package of claims for improvements in their pay and working conditions that will be presented when theyre-negotiate their collective employment agreement in October.
They voted to endorse the claims at 163 Paid Union Meetings organised throughout the country by their union, NZEI Te Riu Roa, which ended yesterday.
Support staff are employed at every school in the country. They work as teacher aides, office managers, finance managers, librarians, ICT and science technicians, kaiarahi i te reo (fluent Maori speakers) therapists, nurses and a wide variety other non teaching jobs.
A key claim addresses the fact that most support staff, unlike teachers, are not paid during the breaks between school terms. This is because their jobs are bulk funded from each schools operations grant.
“This bulk funding means that most support staff have no money coming in during term breaks and many struggle to make ends meet during these periods,” says NZEI Te Riu Roa National President, Irene Cooper.”
To address this, support staff will be tabling a claim that they can elect to have their pay ‘annualised’ or spread over the whole year.
They will also be seeking an extra week of paid leave every year. Currently they receive three weeks annual leave year for the first four years of employment, and then four weeks a year if they’re in the job over four years. The claim is to extend those leave entitlements to four and five weeks.
Other claims include a 5% pay rise. A simplification of the qualification provisions in the agreement, to help ensure support staff are paid for the qualifications they hold. And for the new agreement to run for 16 months, expiring at the end of next year.
“In addition to re-negotiating the agreement, we continue the campaign for a fairer and more effective system for funding support staff jobs,” says Irene Cooper. “Their jobs have been bulk funded since 1989 and this system has clearly passed its use-by-date.”
As part of that campaign, NZEI Te Riu Roa is currently involved in the Ministry of Education’s review of school operations funding, which includes an analysis of paying support staff from the operations grant. “We are making it clear that bulk funding support staff is the prime cause of their lack of job security and low rates of pay and that we have to develop a better system,” says Irene Cooper.