School support staff fighting for a fair deal

Written By: - Date published: 8:35 am, May 7th, 2009 - 13 comments
Categories: education, national/act government, public services, wages, workers' rights - Tags:

Cut public spending then we can have tax cuts! It’s such a nice, appealing slogan when you say it fast without engaging the brain. The reality though is real people who spend their lives working for the greater good are losing their jobs and seeing their incomes fall, and the services they produce will suffer as a result. This guest post shows what a fight public sector workers have on their hands:

Teacher aides, school administration staff, school librarians and all other School Support Staff are negotiating the first employment agreement under the new government this week.

It’s taken months to get the Government to the table to address our key issues – fair pay and job security.

No 21st century school can run without Support Staff, and they are critical to support children’s individual learning needs. Yet many teacher aides, for example, are on as little as $12.94 an hour, less than they would earn as a supermarket checkout operator!!! Most Support Staff workers work and get paid term time only eg (40 weeks per year) .

We’re fighting with our union, NZEI Te Riu Roa, for a fair deal – you can find out more at

– G [not sure if you were comfortable with your full name being used]

13 comments on “School support staff fighting for a fair deal”

  1. coge 1

    Funny nothing was said under the former Govt. Is this convenient, or just plain cosy?

  2. Bill 2

    The fact that school cleaners are on a higher starting rate ( somewhere over $14 from memory) than many long serving Support Staff kind of says it all G.

    Good luck.

    Wasn’t the Government promising more money for education and banging on about front line staff in the state sector?

    I guess we’ll see if their actions match their words. More likely, we’ll see sweet FA in the correlation department yet again.

  3. infused 3

    I’m pretty sure they still are. Education and Health are the main priorities. Have to wait till the budget.

  4. Hilary 4

    The last government set up a pay equity enquiry for school support staff who are some of the lowest paid workers, and mainly women.This government halted that a couple of months ago, and Labour set up a petition to reinstate it.

    Many have also lobbied for years to get support staff paid and organised centrally as teachers are, because they are hired and fired at the whim of each school (and dependent on each school’s operations grant – which I hear is to be cut in the Budget). In my brief time as a support staffer a few years ago I had to try and find other work for the 12 weeks of school holidays when you get no pay at all. It’s a tough life. Yet support staff do some of the most important work in schools such as teacher aides for disabled kids.

  5. bilbo 5

    Support staff have been getting a crap deal for ages …….. Yes under the last government as well and for as long as I can remember.

    This would be one group that deserves to be looked after under the Vote Education budget – I expect however they’ll get shafted by National just as the same as they were shafted by Labour.

  6. charlie 6

    And while we’re at it lets not forget the aged care workers because the pay rates for these people are truly awful, minimum I think.

  7. Trevor Mallard 7

    School support workers perform a vital role especially those who work directly with kids. Early in the term of the last Labour government we stretched the scale and lifted the pay substantially for people with qualifications and experience. I understand the support workers claim was lodged very late in the term of the last government. the test for the nats is not only the settlement but the need for 2 – 3% over the rate of inflation on the operation grant in order to fund a decent settlement.

  8. Greg 8

    Why should support staff get paid for hours they don’t work?

    • Gaye Parlane 8.1

      They only get paid the hours they work, but keep in mind they get paid term time only (40 wks per year) A teacher aide working 15 hours per week @ $12.94 per hour will earn $8540.00 per year. Believe me they do it for the students not the money!!! Who could live on that.

    • Linda Jordan 8.2

      I don’t remember ever asking to be paid for hours I don’t work. Do ask that people remember the fact that most Support Staff only work during school terms so along with a low hourly wage and for many staff working less than 30 hours per week, it all adds up to be a very low paid position. Remember that we are working with the next generation, the very people that will run our country for us.

      As a Support Staff member for over 10 years and working 30 hours a week, I still don’t qualify for any of the new tax cuts.

  9. Evidence-Based Practice 9

    The 2009 Budget money for Education is likely to be going towards new testing regimes and not anything that actually improves outcomes. School Operations Grants are already very tight and not likely to get any relief.

    Teachers and other workers are paid for hours they theoretically don’t work, eg school holidays. Why shouldn’t support staff be as well? Many support staff keep working during the school holidays on school related tasks. Just because the kids aren’t there doesn’t mean that the work stops. You can’t go down to Work and Income and register for the dole for two weeks. So how are support staff supposed to survive?

  10. Gaye Parlane 10

    School Support Staff have been waiting for years for a fair deal, many support staff earn as little as $12.94 per hour, only marginally above the minium wage of $12.50 per hour, we work at the front line of education and these negiotations are vital for the government to addressour low pay issues.

    Any money that goes towards the supporting teachers and learning of children should be seen as an investment not a cost!!!

    Gaye Parlane
    Papanui High School

  11. r0b 11

    Any money that goes towards the supporting teachers and learning of children should be seen as an investment not a cost!!!

    Hear hear! Though I’m a strong Labour supporter I do feel that Labour should have done more in this area. Good luck in your negotiations with the current government…

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