NZEI: Govt Must Acknowledge Support Staff Funding Problems
NZEI Te Riu Roa is calling on the government to acknowledge the problems surrounding the funding of support staff in schools and to join the union, and other organisations involved in the issue, in developing a better system.
The union has carried out extensive research on the issue that shows an urgent need to change the way support staff are funded. A report with the research and a proposal for a new funding system was endorsed by 400 delegates at the union's Annual Meeting in Wellington this morning. (Tuesday September 21)
"The union represents 9500 support staff in primary and secondary schools. Our research shows they could be underpaid by as much as $6 million because they are not being paid what they are entitled to under their collective employment agreement," says NZEI Te Riu Roa National President, Colin Tarr.
"The research found that out of 176 schools surveyed, 166 owed money to their support staff, an average of $900 for each support staff member. This is because they were incorrectly graded or weren't being paid the increments or allowances that they are entitled to receive."
"In recent years NZEI field staff have recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars for underpaid support staff. This underpayment is unacceptable and can not be allowed to continue," says Colin Tarr.
The underpayment is the result of support staff being paid from the operation grants the government gives schools to pay for all their running costs. This means they are paid from the same money schools used to buy equipment, maintain classrooms and pay the power bill. Schools struggle to spread their grants across all these costs, putting constant pressure on boards and principals to find the money to pay their support staff.
"NZEI proposes that the government provide funding specifically for core work done by support staff, with money also being provided within the ops grant that would enable schools to employ any additional support staff they required," says Colin Tarr.
"A survey of schools has shown that an overwhelming majority believe the current method of paying support staff is not working and needs to be changed. The union is calling on the government to acknowledge this and to join the union and other parties involved in this issue in working together to build a better system."