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School support staff begin meetings for new agreement

Tomorrow, teacher aides and other school support staff will begin two weeks of nationwide paid union meetings to discuss plans for upcoming collective agreement negotiations, with pay equity settlements high on the agenda as well.

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Lynda Stuart said members were determined to finally see a genuine improvement to pay, conditions and job security.

"Support staff are the glue that hold our schools together. Quality teaching and learning can't happen without them and they are long overdue improved pay and conditions that recognise their skills and their value to our students," she said.

Ms Stuart said members at more than 200 meetings around New Zealand would discuss and vote on the plan, which was in two parts - immediate issues like pay increases, allowances and study leave, as well as speedy progress on pay equity, which offers the best opportunity to make significant improvements to pay rates and job security.

The teacher aide pay equity process is nearing completion and NZEI Te Riu Roa is pushing for the negotiating phase to begin as soon as possible. Members have been involved in a comprehensive process with the Ministry of Education to assess the work of teacher aides and comparable male-dominated roles.

The Support Staff in Schools Collective Agreement (SSCA) and the Kaiarahi i Te Reo, Therapists’, ATSSD (assistants to teachers of students with severe disabilities) and Special Education Assistants Collective Agreement both expire on 15 July 2019.

Support staff on the SSCA work in primary and secondary schools and include teacher aides, office and administration staff, librarians and technicians.

The other agreement covers:

• Assistants to teachers of students with severe disabilities (ATSSD), working alongside teachers, helping with the education of students with severe disabilities.

• Special education assistants, who work alongside teachers and therapists, helping with the education of students with physical disabilities.

• Kaiarahi i te reo, who are fluent in te reo Māori and have an in-depth knowledge of Māori traditions and beliefs, and work alongside a teacher supporting Māori language.

• Therapists, who are nationally registered physiotherapists and/or occupational therapists holding a current annual practising certificate.

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