23 November 2012
Education Secretary backs support staff
NZEI school support staff members have welcomed an acknowledgement from the Secretary for Education, Lesley Longstone, in the long-running Novopay debacle.
Mrs. Longstone said that media comments made by Talent2 Chief Executive John Rawlinson saying school administration staff were culpable for problems with the Education Ministry's Novopay payroll system were really “unhelpful”.
“I thank her for the acknowledgement that it was not a support staff input problem. Staff have been inputting data for many years without any problem,” said Vicki Signal, NZEI national executive and support staff member at Hamilton’s Rhode Street School.
Mrs. Longstone told Radio New Zealand today that it was hardly surprising the staff had had trouble embracing the system, when there were so many bugs in it.
She said she knew it was frustrating but she said her message to NZEI and others was to “hold in there as it would result in a much better system” for them. However, she acknowledged that the new system won’t settle down until it had been through “a full year’s process”.
This came as a shock to Mrs. Signal.
“Support staff have been under a lot of stress and the prospect of looking at problems for another year is unbelievable and unacceptable,” she said.
“Other things are not happening in schools as staff keep getting dragged into Novopay problems. If the end-of -ear pay does not work then there will be huge ramifications. There are people who could be without income for two and half months.”
NZEI National Secretary Paul Goulter said assurances made by Mrs. Longstone that no staff member would be without pay were welcome but the process around this was not clear.
“She has said that schools should pay unpaid staff from their operations grant (which they have been doing) and if they cannot do that, they should contact the Ministry directly. However, the process around this is not clear. This needs to be sorted yesterday,” he said.