Whanganui school support staff have been waiting a long time to hear good news about their pay and working conditions and now they may have it.
Along with over 30,000 New Zealand school support staff, kaiārahi, and therapists, they are set to receive a significant pay increase if they accept an offer made by the Government.
Education Secretary Iona Holsted has offered the 2019 living wage to more than 17,000 employees who are earning less than $21.15.
Staff currently earning the living wage will also be offered a three per cent pay increase.
"A further three per cent increase will follow 12 months later for all school support staff under this agreement," Holsted said.
"If the offer is accepted by NZEI Te Riu Roa members, the pay increase will take effect from November 29, with payment of the new rates in peoples' pockets from March 2020.
"Included in the settlement is a teacher aide learning and development fund of $790,000 over the term of the Support Staff in Schools' Collective Agreement [July 2020-February 2022].
The Ministry of Education, teachers union NZEI Te Riu Roa and the New Zealand Board of Trustees Association (NZSTA) have been working to come to an agreement.
"We are committed to addressing low pay, and this is a step towards ensuring that all New Zealanders receive fairer pay and employment conditions that allow for a decent standard of living,"
"Additional funds will be provided to school boards of trustees to enable this sizable increase. We will work closely with NZSTA to provide information and support to boards to make sure they understand the details in the new agreement," Holsted said.
"We are also working to resolve other issues raised by support staff and kaiārahi. This includes the pay equity claim for teacher aides, which is close to the settlement phase."
The Education Accord signed with NZEI Te Riu Roa and secondary teachers' union PPTA in July this year includes a focus on the support staff workforce.
Holsted said the wider Education Workforce Strategy work will continue with a vision to have a strong, culturally competent education workforce by 2032.