Stratford and Inglewood anger at pay fiasco

Stratford and Inglewood residents teaching in Hawera put their weight behind a picket protesting the troubled Novopay system on Saturday.

Around 100 teachers joined the protest in Hawera on the day. The handful standing on the corner of Broadway and Fenton St on Saturday morning, however, say they were undeterred by their small number, having invited local teachers to join in if they wish.

Colin Cowie, his wife Kittina, who also teaches at Hawera High School and colleagues Lauraine and Brian Parkinson, who live in Inglewood, say they are fed up with the uncertainty and that something needs to be done.

Colin is retiring this week after teaching since 1976. He has been underpaid, not paid and overpaid and says is is unlikely he will be able to retire with peace of mind over his financial footing.

"I recently turned 68 and I have never been so disappointed in the Ministry of Education as I have become over the last seven months. I am a victim of the Novopay debacle. My fortnightly pay that came out just before Christmas had one day's pay instead of 14. Early January I was not paid at all.

The following pay, late January, had some, but not all. Corrections appeared to be overpayment, which I have put aside in case I have to pay it back. The most recent pay, in early February, had no corrections but had several allowances I am entitled to missing.

"There is now some considerable confusion as to just what has to be done to correct it all."

He says he is one of the lucky ones, not having been short on money as the Ministry of Education deposited partial pays into his account after he contacted it in December.

"But these all have to be returned to the ministry. This repayment and the processes involved in it are a concern. They certainly have the talent to stuff things up monumentally."

He organised the rally on Saturday for the "worker's voice to be heard".

"I am concerned that we have become invisible and, because we are not seen to be doing anything for ourselves, it may now be thought by our communities that we are accepting this dreadful, and probably illegal, state of affairs."

Hawera High School has been wonderful to help staff through this, he says, but Novopay and the ministry need to pull their socks up and sort it out.

'Something like two per cent of our total population is on the Ministry of Education's payroll, so that makes it somewhere around 5 per cent of all workers in NZ. This is without the employees of the Post Office, who have had Talent2 inflicted upon them. What an awful prospect it would be if Talent2 ever got their incompetence accepted on to any welfare, health, other organisation or government computer system."

- Stratford Press

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