School support staff vote to accept Living Wage payrise of up to 19.5%

School support staff have voted to accept collective agreement offers from the Ministry of Education, with the Living Wage of $21.15 as the new minimum pay rate.

This settlement represents a significant 19.5% increase for those support staff and kaiārahi i te reo currently on the minimum wage.

Support staff include the likes of teacher aides, administration staff, librarians, kaiārahi i te reo, therapists and technicians in primary, intermediate and secondary schools.

All other support staff currently earning at or above $21.15 per hour will receive an increase of 3% on printed rates and all members will receive a further 3% increase on printed rates in 12 months' time. 

Ally Kemplen, an Auckland teacher aide on the NZEI Te Riu Roa negotiating team, said it was a huge win for the many support staff who were paid the minimum wage or close to it. Ninety per cent of teacher aides are currently earning less than the Living Wage.

"Members recognised that this offer would make a huge difference to the lives of many support staff, and begins to address a long-term undervaluing of their skills and responsibilities," she said.

"Our focus is now heavily on pay equity claims for various support staff groups. For teacher aides this will include working on a new pay scale and equitable pay rates that take account of experience, skills and responsibility." 

The pay equity process is nearing completion for teacher aides, and negotiations with the Ministry of Education will start on 18 December. 

"Another major focus of this pay equity work will be providing secure, sustainable and permanent employment for support staff through a new funding model. We will also be pushing for more career development opportunities," said Ms Kemplen.

For administration staff, NZEI Te Riu Roa is working with the Ministry to get a clear, agreed time frame for their pay equity claim, following the Ministry's agreement that there is an arguable pay equity case.

Overview of the collective agreement settlement

Following the vote to accept, the offers will be ratified on 14 December, with pay changes effective 29 November. The rates will be implemented and back-paid in March 2020 because of the complex changes to the payroll that will be required. The agreements are for a term of 26 months.

The new rates will be funded from new money to be provided to boards of trustees through the operations grant. Positions funded to support individual children on the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) will also be covered. 

The settlement includes 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.  This includes 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.

The offer also includes a commitment to immediate work on the administration and kaiarahi pay equity claims.

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

The full terms of settlement can be found here.

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