School support staff who are members of NZEI Te Riu Roa will vote on a new collective agreement offer from the Ministry of Education this 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.”
The Secretary for Education, Iona Holsted, said she is pleased to offer the 2019 living wage to over 17,000 employees who are earning less than this. For those people on the minimum wage, this is a 19.5% increase.
“Those staff who are earning $21.15 an hour currently, will also benefit from a 3% increase to their pay” says Ms Holsted. A further 3% increase will follow 12 months later for all school support staff under this agreement.
“If the offer is accepted by NZEI Te Riu Roa members, the pay increase will take effect from 29 November, with payment of the new rates in peoples’ pockets from March 2020.
“Included in the settlement is a teacher aide learning and development fund of $790,000 over the term of the Support Staff in Schools’ Collective Agreement (July 2020 – February 2022).
“The Ministry, NZEI Te Riu Roa and the New Zealand Board of Trustees Association (NZSTA) have been working hard to come to an agreement. We are committed to addressing low pay, and this is a step towards ensuring that all New Zealanders receive fairer pay and employment conditions that allow for a decent standard of living.
“Additional funds will be provided to school boards of trustees to enable this sizable increase. We will work closely with NZSTA to provide information and support to boards to make sure they understand the details in the new agreement. We are also working to resolve other issues raised by support staff and kaiārahi. This includes the pay equity claim for teacher aides, which is close to the settlement phase.
“We recently signed the Education Accord with NZEI Te Riu Roa and PPTA which includes a focus on the support staff workforce, and the wider Education Workforce Strategy work continues, with a vision to have a strong, culturally competent education workforce by 2032.”
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.