Kapiti’s Support Staff Celebrate
Story and photo by Peter Corlett
About 50 ‘support’ staff from schools throughout Kapiti gathered for a yearly celebration this week.
They work in primary and secondary schools as teacher aides, librarians, office workers.
Among other things, they run programmes for children with dyslexia and disabilities, and support children’s learning.
But the plight of such staff was highlighted recently by an open letter signed by 500 school principals. This included their concerns that, despite six months of negotiations on a new Collective Agreement, the government still refuses to offer any pay increases!
How the Union honours workers
So the Support Staff Day (June 15) is a day organised by the NZEI teachers’ union to acknowledge the work of support staff.
And this year workers from Paekakariki to Otaki gathered at Club Vista in Paraparamu for a celebration breakfast.
Skilled but poorly paid
Many schools also ran their own celebrations to acknowledge the work of these highly skilled and dedicated — but poorly paid — workers.
A study in 2010 showed that many well qualified Support Staff workers, often working with students with complex and high needs, were paid less than a school’s caretaker’s assistant! Because they were not paid for school holidays some Support Staff’s fortnightly pay dropped to less than minimum wage when their pay was annualised.
And in Paraparaumu this week, while staff would have liked a leisurely breakfast, for many it was just a quick break before dashing back to be ready for the start to the school day.