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Back in court to fight unjust Ministry of Education decision

NZEI back in court to fight unjust Ministry of Education decision

22 September, 2016

NZEI Te Riu Roa yesterday filed in the Employment Court for a review of the Ministry of Education's unilateral decision to impose a fortnight with no pay in February for annualised support staff.

NZEI will ask the Court to reject the decision because it is not compliant with the spirit of annualisation and the collective agreement.

NZEI General Manager for operations, Andrew Cassidy said this was totally unacceptable to support staff members.

“Many have to budget very carefully with their money as it is. Losing a fortnight’s pay would be very difficult.

“No-one should have to do without two weeks’ pay. This shows how little the Ministry values these people and the vital roles they have in our primary and secondary schools.”

The Court had agreed with NZEI that annualised pay should be paid over 12 months (26 fortnights), not 27 fortnights.

The Ministry must now pay all union members the back pay resulting from their 3.7% under-payment each fortnight so far this year. The back pay will be paid between the October 26 payday and November 9.

However, the Court did not make a ruling about the 2017 annualisation year, and instead directed the Ministry and NZEI to negotiate about what to do.

The Employment Court upheld the earlier ruling of the Employment Relations Authority that the Ministry could not unilaterally reduce the pay of 6,000 annualised* school support staff by 3.7% for all of 2016 because of a payroll anomaly that sees an extra fortnight in the payroll every 11 years.

Annualisation: Many school support staff work for only 40 weeks of the year. Annualisation allows them to spread their expected income into 26 even fortnightly payments throughout the year.

However, there are 365 or 366 days in a year, rather than the 364 days of 26 fortnightly payments. Every 11 years, this adds up to one extra PAY DATE. The ministry decided to claw back that PAY during 2016 by reducing wage payments by 3.7% throughout the year.

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