19 September 2018
Support Workers ratify first pay equity settlement for education
NZEI Te Riu Roa is pleased to announce on Suffrage Day, the ratification of the pay equity settlement for 329 Education Support Workers who work for the Ministry of Education.
“It could not be better timing on the 125th anniversary of women winning the right to vote in New Zealand that this group of women have finally achieved pay justice,” says NZEI Te Riu Roa President Lynda Stuart.
“These women work with some of our most vulnerable children and for them to have their skills and experience recognised for what they do, is wonderful and paves the way for other women in the education sector who are fighting for pay equity.”
In August, NZEI and the Ministry of Education agreed Terms of Settlement to address a pay equity claim for 329 Ministry of Education support workers providing support to young children with additional learning needs. Since then, meetings have been held in which support workers voted to ratify the settlement.
Ministry of Education support workers help children with severe learning challenges access education in early childhood centres, while communications support workers and behaviour support workers assist children in schools.
Ministry of Education Support Workers Jacoline Brink, Kathy Power, Mary Jones and Denise Tetzlaff led the negotiations on behalf of their colleagues, which included an immediate pay increase of up to 30% and further increases over three years for all Support Workers employed by the Ministry.
Ms Brink said the settlement meant feeling valued for the skills, knowledge and experience she brings to the role.
"I do this job well because I have the ability, not because I am a women. The settlement opens up an opportunity, looking at our work for the future, more stable hours and more clarity around our roles.
"The financial benefit will mean I can do more for my own family, believing it will put us into a better position to buy our first home in New Zealand, and it will help me not to have to work two jobs anymore," she said.
The settlement is the culmination of a journey that began 12 years ago. NZEI had spent several years in pay equity processes under the previous Labour Government, before the National Government scrapped the pay equity unit in 2008 and refused to consider pay equity claims in collective agreement negotiations.
The settlement sees the lowest hourly rates move to $21.67 with a new top step of $24.73 for those who have done four to nine years of service. Support workers with ten or more years of service on 1 July 2018, will move to a new rate of $25.70 an hour.
The agreement also includes minimum guaranteed hours for support workers on permanent variable hours employment agreements and establishes a working group to identify appropriate qualifications and career pathways for support workers by 1 July 2019.