The country’s largest education union will this week enter mediation with the Ministry of Education regarding its pay equity claim for school administrators and kaiārahi i te reo.
In September 2018 NZEI Te Riu Roa raised the pay equity claim and have since conducted a thorough investigation process alongside the Ministry of Education.
The investigation uncovered decades of undervaluation. In December 2021, the Ministry of Education and NZEI Te Riu Roa agreed in principle to pay equity settlements that included substantial average pay increases for kaiārahi i te reo and school administrators. This would deliver pay rates that are free from gender discrimination.
Kaiārahi i te reo and school administrators are still waiting for a settlement.
In order to deliver a settlement, NZEI Te Riu Roa members were asked to relinquish their right to recovery of remuneration for past work. Because of the decades of undervaluation, members feel strongly that any settlement must recognise the undervaluation of past work.
This disagreement led NZEI Te Riu Roa to file with the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) earlier this year. Urgent mediation is scheduled for Wednesday 13 April. If there is no agreement, a hearing will take place on 18-20 May.
“It seems unfair that kaiārahi i te reo and school administrators still do not have this issue resolved despite the thorough process we’ve been through to get to the shared understanding with the Ministry,” said NZEI Te Riu Roa president Liam Rutherford.
“Kaiārahi i te reo and school administrators are underpaid, and have been historically so, yet their value to schools has been essential during the pandemic.”
Members of the negotiation team are hopeful mediation will provide a positive outcome, with kaiārahi i te reo Parekohai Wells not wanting to see such a historic settlement stalled.
“Ka aroha atu au, nā te mea kaha rātou ki te mahi engari kua patua ō rātou wairua, kua heke haere te māiatanga.”
Pam Watson, HR manager and pay equity negotiation team member, is pleased that the request for mediation has been treated as an urgent matter by the Employment Relations Authority.
“We raised the claim in 2018, and we know gender-based discrimination was occurring a long time before then. A joint process has determined this is the case, why have we ended up here?”
Kaiārahi i te reo are support staff who use their in-depth knowledge of te reo and tikanga Māori to support their school communities.