School support staff to consider new collective agreement offer next week

30 November 2019

School support staff who are members of NZEI Te Riu Roa will vote on a new collective agreement offer from the Ministry of Education next week that includes a new minimum base pay rate of $21.15 per hour, the current Living Wage.

Support staff include the likes of teacher aides, administration staff, librarians, kaiārahi i te reo, therapists and technicians.

Currently support staff on the bottom four steps of the pay scale are paid the minimum wage of $17.70 per hour and ninety percent of teacher aides are paid below the Living Wage

This is the first offer the Ministry of Education has made since the collective agreements covering support staff expired in July.

Auckland teacher aide Ally Kemplen, who is on NZEI Te Riu Roa's support staff negotiating team, says the offer is a step forward and is the result of support staff across Aotearoa standing up and campaigning hard for their work to be valued fairly.

"I'm so proud of how hard we've all fought to get this offer. We've been writing to MPs, campaigning in our schools, talking to parents and getting media attention. That tireless collective action has been crucial," she says. 

"Support staff are absolutely vital to our schools. We work closest with children who have the most complex learning needs. But we've been undervalued for too long. This offer is a significant first step toward acknowledging that and valuing support staff properly," she says. 

"Ultimately it is now up to members to vote whether to accept the offer next week."

Ms Kemplen says that while members will be glad to receive a collective agreement offer to vote on, this doesn't change the need for a teacher aide pay equity settlement to be negotiated as quickly as possible to fix the broken system that has historically undervalued their work.

"This offer doesn't fix the broken system that means so many support staff have no job security and go without pay outside of the school term. We need the government to address this urgently by negotiating a fully-funded pay equity settlement for teacher aides as soon as possible, with swift movement on other support staff pay equity claims too."

Key points of the offer:

  • A minimum base rate of $21.15 per hour for all support staff and kaiārahi i te reo members currently earning less than this rate. 
     
  • All other members earning at or above $21.15 per hour are offered an increase of 3% on printed rates. The increases will be effective from November 29.
     
  • All members to receive a further 3% increase on printed rates in 12 months' time. 
     
  • For those currently on the lowest rates, the offer means pay increases of up to 19.5%. The Living Wage rate also effectively amalgamates the lowest eight steps into one bottom step.
     
  • The new rates will be funded from new money to be provided to boards of trustees through the operations grant.
     
  • The rates will be implemented in March 2020 because of the complex changes to the payroll that will be required.
     
  • The Ministry has also offered a professional learning and development fund of $500,000 a year from 1 July 2020 to fund a pilot teacher aide learning and development fund. 
     
  • The offer also responds to several of our other claims including funding for cultural leave for support staff participating in Te Matatini, an increase in the motor vehicle allowance to align with the rate payable to teachers and principals, revision of the overnight allowance to ensure members receive their correct entitlements, and renaming the dirty work allowance the "tiaki" allowance.

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