Staff at Taradale High School united together on Friday for their teacher aides, wearing black and white to show support for their battle for fairer pay.
Taradale High School NZEI Support Staff Representative Shona Black said that it was great to see all the staff come out in force to support.
"It just goes to show how valued they are and the great work they do for the school," Black said.
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Black says support staff are struggling with two issues, the first is the Collective Agreement which expired in July and the second is a Pay Equity Claim which NZEI have lodged with the Government on behalf of Teacher Aides.
"Both are long overdue for action," she said.
"I heard the Minister say that they were struggling to deal with both issues currently however, the pay equity claim is two years old and nothing has been done."
A teacher aide at the school, Wendy Hinde, has over 35 years of experience and says that the sad reality is that she could go work in a supermarket and get paid more than what she does right now.
"It's not one I would take because I love my job and what I do, and all we want is to get a little recognition from Government for the work we do."
The school's Gateway co-ordinator Lynda Vidulich said she loved the work she does helping senior students get in to the workforce.
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"It's amazing because you get to help them out in life and give them that support to make something of themselves."
Black said there was one example she knew of from another school where a gateway co-ordinator helped a student into a job at Bunnings and found out they were being paid more than the teacher aide who had supported them through school.
Pay is the major issue but also job security as the school year comes to an end. Many teacher aides are employed on a fixed-term basis and are not paid in the holidays.
Black said that all support staff are underpaid for their skills and experience, she says that they are the "glue that holds schools together".
"What we are asking is for the Government to show us some action, negotiate our collective agreement. So far they have offered us nothing," Black said.
"We want the government to fund support staff centrally, as they do for teachers and not make our Principals and BOT's choose between our wages and other resources to run the school."
Ministry of Education deputy secretary Ellen MacGregor-Reid said it had been working with the New Zealand Educational Institute and New Zealand School Trustees Association on the teacher aide pay equity claim and a new collective agreement.
"All parties agree that teacher aides pay should be comparable to roles in male-dominated workforces. Conversations on pay equity are under way. "
MacGregor-Reid said the ministry and NZEI were looking at how support staff in schools were funded.
"This will need to be carefully worked through to ensure the solutions are sustainable, taking into account the school's role as the employer and the flexible nature of the roles."