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School support staff to demand fair pay in week of action

School support staff to demand fair pay in week of action from 11 November

10 November 2019

School support staff start a week of action tomorrow (Monday 11 November) to express their frustration over the stalling of collective agreement and pay equity negotiations.

NZEI Te Riu Roa has been negotiating collective agreements with the Ministry of Education since 30 July with no offer forthcoming, and pay equity processes for teacher aides have been ongoing for the past three years.

NZEI Te Riu Roa members are holding the week of action to demand the government move faster to resolve the situation and to give schools and staff certainty before the end of the year.

Ally Kemplen, an Auckland teacher aide on the NZEI Te Riu Roa pay equity negotiation team, said the mood amongst support staff at recent paid union meetings was increasingly angry.

"Support staff are crucial to children's education and the running of our schools, but we're certainly not treated that way by the current system. We endure poor pay and insecure employment to do the job we love," she said.

"Support staff are on the front line of student support. We work with children who have some of the most complex learning needs. If we truly value the learning of those children, we need to value the people who work closest with them."

"For years, successive governments have saved money by suppressing our pay - 90% of teacher aides earn less than the Living Wage of $21.15 and more than 60% are on fixed term contracts. That means many of us have to juggle two or more jobs to make ends meet. We are officially over it. We need the government to fix this now."

At paid union meetings last month, support staff in primary and secondary schools voted to commit to a week of action to raise awareness of the issues. Members will engage with their school communities, MPs and media to raise awareness of poor pay and job insecurity.

The key teacher aide issues are:

• the need for significant increases in pay,

• security of employment,

• career development,

• school funding changes to support these


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