Novopay has cut the pay of around 6000 school support staff in what NZEI Te Riu Roa is describing as an unfair and illegal move.

This is causing huge amounts of stress for some of the lowest-paid people in the education system. We’re hearing stories about staff who are already scraping by on very tight budgets and are having to further reduce the amount of food they buy. When you don’t have the money for any extras anyway, you can only cut back on groceries or on heating.

This debacle is affecting school support staff who have chosen to have their pay spread out over the year, instead of only being paid during school term time, in order to ensure that they receive an income over the holiday period.

Bizarrely, Novopay argues that they are paying 27 pay periods over 54 weeks in 2016 and that’s why they’ve reduced the fortnightly payments by 3.7 percent.

Here are just some of the stories that we’ve been hearing..

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FB-tile-Donna-Johns

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Donna Johns, office manager St Patrick’s Catholic Primary and Intermediate School, Taupo

Down $15 a fortnight

I have been in my job as Office Manager for nearly 19 years and this is the first time this has happened with the support staff annualisations. I would like to know if there will be another adjustment next year to make up the adjustment of pay fortnights from 26 to 27? It’s just ridiculous that Novopay have to make this change. No one can afford to have their wages decreased, and some are worse off than others.

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FB-tile-Sonja Farr-editDW

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Sonja Farr, office administrator, Taradale Intermediate School, Napier

Losing $60.00 a fortnight.

I had no option but to accept annualisation for 2016 as I needed to have some income coming in over the Christmas School holiday period. I budget but we still seem to be living week to week. Having less is adding to the stress. We’re being treated like we don’t matter. Communication has been so poor and finding out about this situation just before the festive season and at a busy work time of the year really was abysmal. It just doesn’t make sense and is unfair.”

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FB-tile-Maryanne-Macintosh-Wright

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Maryanne Macintosh-Wright, Sacred Heart School, Napier – librarian

I’ve been on a support staff income since 1993 and have brought up five kids on that income. Retirement is a frightening event because on that income there is no money for a nest egg for when I retire.

I can never guarantee what my pay is and our executive officer is just as bamboozled by this.

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More stories

Susan Renshaw, student services, Aotea College

Losing $40-$50 a fortnight

I have a six year old son and this is money that I won’t be able to spend on the things he needs. I try to budget and put aside a little each week to cover things like power and phone bills but this is making things just so difficult.

Channelle Rickard, office administrator, St Joseph’s School, Wairoa

Losing $36 a fortnight

I love my job and the school I work at, I work hard and I am losing $36 a fortnight. I’ve already had my hours cut; I work 32.5 hours as it is although I still do more than that. In the past I have taken on a second job to try to make ends meet. We don’t have any luxuries; we don’t do things like go to the movies. $36 is a lot of money to me when I’ve still got power, groceries, rates, car registrations and so on to pay for. It will mean less petrol for the car

Linda Jordan, Teacher Aide, James Cook High School, Auckland

Losing $26 a fortnight

My budget is very tight. Already I don’t go to the hairdresser very often and this means fewer treats for the grandchildren. I’m really angry – Novopay said they had sorted out all their problems and then they spring this on us with no communication. We received no pay rise last year and now we are hit with what amounts to a pay decrease.” ​

Eileen Barnett, librarian, Menzies college, Wyndham

“I love the job and have a great passion for kids. But losing $17.63 a fortnight is a lot of money. I was already living on a strict budget and now this has been just another kick in the teeth.

Kay Addei, office manager, St Peter’s school, Christchurch

Losing $45 a week

Why do they make these grandiose decisions without consultation? I’d like to see the look on a politician’s face if they told them they would be taking 3.7 percent off their pay each fortnight. I really struggle and the budget is already tight. Last week I managed to spend less than $300 on groceries so that was a yee-ha moment for me. But this means trimming back even more on groceries because I still have to pay my bills and there are no extras on my income.”

Denise Murray, office manager, May Road School, Auckland

Losing $63 a fortnight

I work 40 hours a week and am at the top of my pay scale,  but of course only get that over 40 weeks a year – that’s why I have my salary annualised. I’ve had to recently buy a new car because my old one went to the wreckers. My rent here is $400 a week and so I don’t know where I‘m going to get the money to pay the car off. On my salary I can’t afford to go to the dentist, pay for insurance or go out for a meal with a friend.