Hundreds of Ministry of Education support workers will receive a pay rise of up to 30 per cent, thanks to a historic pay equity settlement, announced by the Government today.

Union NZEI Te Riu Roa and the Ministry of Education today signed Terms of Settlement to address a pay equity claim for 329 Ministry of Education support workers who work with young children in early childhood and primary schools.

Support workers are currently paid between $16.77 and $19.87 an hour. The settlement would see the minimum hourly rate move to $21.67 with a new top step of $24.73 for those who have done four to nine years’ service.

Support workers with ten or more years’ service on 1 July 2018, will move to a new rate of $25.70 an hour.

The agreement also includes minimum guaranteed hours for support workers on permanent variable hours’ employment agreements and establishes a working group to identify appropriate qualifications and career pathways for support workers by 1 July 2019.

Jacoline Brink, one of four support workers to lead the negotiations, said she was really looking forward to the future, and finally being paid fairly for her work and contribution.

“It took longer than expected, but I’m grateful to the Ministry for coming to the table, and for NZEI supporting us on this journey. I really hope our success in getting to this point is an encouragement to our education colleagues in ECE and school support staff, who are working with the Ministry on their own settlements.”

Education Minister Chris Hipkins agreed the settlement had been a long time coming for the women who had taken the Education Support Worker’s claim.

“Ultimately, it’s about making sure that women get a fair deal in the workplace,” Chris Hipkins said.

The settlement is expected to be ratified in the next month after support workers vote on it in the coming weeks.

Secretary for Education Iona Holsted said the claim was the first to be progressed under new pay equity principles agreed by the Government, business and unions, which are now informing legislation being developed to make future claims easier.
“As we’ve been breaking new ground, both parties have had to work carefully and thoroughly through the jointly-agreed process. I’m pleased that we’ve remained committed to working productively together to get to this point,” she said.
“Signing the terms is a significant step towards reaching agreement with this highly valued group of staff. I’m hopeful we can achieve that as soon as possible,” said Holsted.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern shared a celebratory cup of tea with four Ministry of Education Support Workers today to mark the signing of the education sector’s first pay equity settlement.

“Almost all education support workers are women, and they do vital work helping young children with severe learning and behavioural challenges to learn. I am delighted to say they will finally be paid fairly for the crucial work they do,” said the Prime Minister.

“This is about fairness. All the parties of Government have committed to pay equity for all women in New Zealand, and to making it fairer and easier for groups of women to bring pay equity claims.”


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