The fight for unfreezing the operations grant – which funds support staff salaries  – is continuing in this election year and in the lead-up to the Budget.

Support staff are an integral and important part of our schools. Without teacher aides, admin staff, librarians, technicians, kaiarahi and the many other roles, schools would not function.

Last year, NZEI Te Riu Roa and PPTA had a win against bulk funding in schools, but the operations grant is still frozen.

The fight for Better Funding has not stopped. The successful roadshow will continue this year, moving into rural areas to carry the message to better fund our schools, early childhood education centres and unfreeze the operations grant.

So far, over 25,000 people have asked the Minister of Education to unfreeze the operations grant, by signing an online petition. NZEI is aiming at 50,000 signatures by the end of Term 1.  (See the NZEI website Supporting Success campaign to sign the petition.)

A survey of principals (see funding story page 8 of this issue) showed the impact of a frozen operations grant on support staff income and job security.

The Support Staff in Schools’ Collective Agreement is also currently being negotiated with a focus on funding, access to career development options and improved professional conditions.

Pay equity
NZEI Te Riu Roa has also called on the Government to lift the pay of Ministry of Education support workers and teacher aides to equal that paid to corrections officers.

Corrections officers and teacher aides are both level 4 jobs on the Australian and New Zealand Standard job Classification System, yet beginner corrections officers (prior to any training) are paid $3.63 an hour more than the most experienced teacher aides.

Beginner teacher aides are paid just over the minimum wage – $15.68 per hour –  $8 an hour less than beginner corrections officers.

Top level teacher aides are paid $ 20.35 an hour – $9 an hour less than top level corrections officers.

NZEI will continue the support workers’ negotiations with mediation early this year on the equal pay for equal value claim.  The Ministry has asked for more time for preparation.