August 24, 2008
From NZEI Te Riu Roa
August 25th, 2008
School Support Staff Put Government On Notice
School support staff are putting the government on notice, saying it’s time for a firm commitment to address issues of low pay.
A fresh campaign for fair pay for support staff was officially launched at the weekend by the education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa, at its national Support Staff Conference in Rotorua.
NZEI has 12,000 support staff members throughout the country. They include teacher aides, administration workers, librarians, nurses and therapists. They are among the lowest paid workers in the country, often earning as little as $12.69 an hour.
The Minister of Education has indicated that school cleaners may shortly settle their collective agreement, which it is understood would raise their minimum rate from $12.00 an hour to $14.62 an hour.
NZEI congratulates the Service and Food Workers Union for their cleaners and caretakers campaign so far, but believes that a government which is committed to addressing low pay should fix the situation for all school workers.
NZEI has been lobbying the government for six years to address problems of low pay for support staff.
NZEI National President Frances Nelson says “members are sick of the government promising to address the issues through ongoing reviews and working parties. If it is truly committed to addressing low pay, now is the time for some action.”
Over 200 members who attended the Rotorua conference welcomed an acknowledgement of the issues by Government Minister Steve Chadwick who promised to take a strong message back to her Cabinet colleagues.
The campaign will gather momentum in the coming weeks with schools, communities and the public being asked to get behind support staff – to support the people who support their children.
“What has often been called education’s Invisible Army is about to become very visible,” says Frances Nelson. “NZEI and its support staff members are determined not to let the government continue to procrastinate and delay on the issue of low pay any longer. They want to see some solid commitment and progress.”