Pay Increase for Education’s Invisible Army
Thousands of school support staff will get their largest pay increase in eight years following the settlement of their pay claim.
NZEI Te Riu Roa has successfully negotiated the pay deal on behalf of 11,000 support staff throughout the country, often known as the “invisible” workforce within the education sector.
The agreement covers non-teaching staff such as teacher aides, administration workers, sports co-ordinators, librarians, and nurses. It will give them a 4% pay increase from January next year and NZEI members will get another 2% the following year. The agreement expires in March 2009.
The claim sought to address long-standing issues of low pay and job insecurity.
It has been agreed, as part of the settlement, that a work programme will be set up with NZEI, the Ministry of Education and the School Trustees Association, to look at pay scales for support staff which are currently a source of frustration for both staff and schools.
NZEI National President Irene Cooper says “support staff are highly valued staff in our schools and this is a good settlement in the short term whilst we complete the work around the scales. NZEI is committed to improving the lot of these workers.”
However, NZEI is still waiting on more tangible results through the government’s operational grant review processes and it is hoped the outcome will give support staff job security.
Support staff are bulk funded through schools’ operations grants and Ms Cooper says many schools have struggled in the past to find adequate funding to pay them.
The recent announcement by the government of transitional funding for 2009 to those schools which lost in the recent decile funding review has saved wholesale cutbacks in support staff hours.
She says “we want to make it clear that bulk funding of support staff is the prime cause of lack of job security and low rates of pay in the sector and a better system must be developed.”
The settlement is subject to ratification by members and a postal ballot will be held at the beginning of the 2008 school year.