The rise in the minimum wage on 1 April has seen a 7.3% increase for some education workers – but with no funding to pay the new rates, according to NZEI Te Riu Roa President Lynda Stuart.
She says the Government needs to urgently contribute new funding to resource schools and ECE services to pay the new rates, as Budget 2018 only increased their operational funding by 1.6%.
“We need an immediate increase to the operations grant, which schools use to pay for running costs, including support staff wages. Otherwise, the Government is giving with one hand and taking with the other. The same pertains to ECE,” she said.
“Some teacher aides, for example, will need to move up as many as four pay steps from $16.50 to the new minimum of $17.70. We welcome the increase in pay, but this highlights the appallingly low remuneration of education staff by successive Governments.”
Some teachers on the lowest pay step will also be moving up to the new minimum hourly rate, while unqualified staff teaching in schools and ECE services and after school care services would be paid under the legal minimum from next week if they do not move up at least one pay step.
NZEI is calling on the Government to commit urgently to boosting funding for schools and ECE centres to cover the increases for support staff, and to make immediate changes to the wage steps in various collective agreements the Ministry of Education is party to.
NZEI President Lynda Stuart said that without additional funding to fill the gap, schools and centres may be forced to cut the hours of low-paid support staff to balance their tight budgets.
“The significant increase to the current minimum wage is a very positive move by the Government, but as it also funds the education sector, it is the Government’s responsibility to ensure that schools and centres are able to pay staff without cutting their hours. Otherwise, children’s learning is put at risk,” she said.
NZEI National Secretary Paul Goulter has written to the Secretary of Education, Iona Holsted, urging her to make the necessary changes as soon as possible.
The following schooling sector collective agreements have rates below the new minimum wage:
First 3 steps of the Kaiarahi scale, all Special Education Assistant rates and the first 5 steps of the ATSSD scale
First 4 steps of the Support Staff in Schools Collective Agreement (SSCA) (currently $16.12 an hour, $16.88, $17.27 and $17.66 – those on the $16.12 step would already be getting the current minimum of $16.50.)
Steps A1 and A2 in the Area School Teachers Collective Agreement (ASTCA) (currently $33,748 and $35,215)
Step 1 of the Primary Teachers Collective Agreement (PTCA) (currently $36, 692)
All rates for untrained teachers in the PTCA ($32,456 -$33,868) (Paid to those with Limited Authority to Teach (LAT) and teachers still awaiting confirmation of their qualifications).
Collective Agreements for Kindergartens with rates below the new minimum wage:
Step 1 of the Kindergarten Teachers Collective Agreement (KTCA) (currently $36, 692)
The three steps of the Kindergarten Support Staff Collective agreement in-training rates (currently $16.63, $17.07 and $17.50)
The Early Childhood Education Collective Agreement (ECECA), which sets funding rates for the wider sector (and has seen wage rates constrained by the lack of funding increases to ECE):
The first three steps of the unqualified teacher/Kaiako rate in the ECECA (currently $16.87, $17.02 and $17.34)
The first step in the out of school care supervisor (currently $17.37) and assistant supervisor scales (currently $16.95) and all three steps for the out of school care employee in the ECECA (Currently $16.67, $16.82 and $16.98)
The first two steps for administrative workers in the ECECA (currently $16.67 and $16.97).
NZEI Te Riu Roa is seeking to vary these ECE agreements with the New Zealand Kindergarten association and Te Rito Maioho respectively but reiterates that a funding boost from Government will be necessary to meet these costs.