The terms of settlement for Ministry of Education support workers represent an historic and life-changing moment in what has been a 12-year battle.
On September 19, 2018, the 125th anniversary of Suffrage Day, the Ministry of Education support workers voted to ratify their first pay equity settlement.
They were the first education sector group to achieve a pay equity settlement.
The 329 support workers directly employed by the Ministry of Education spent several years in pay equity processes under a previous Labour Government, before the National Government scrapped the pay equity unity in 2008 and refused to consider pay equity claims in collective agreement negotiations.
It wasn’t until 2015, following the successful Terranova proceedings taken by New Zealander of the Year, Kristine Bartlett, and the then Service and Food Worker’s Union, that NZEI Te Riu Roa filed a pay equity case in the Employment Relations Authority on behalf of Ministry-employed support workers.
After two years of wrangling and negotiating, we had our long-awaited settlement.
The settlement included an immediate average pay increase of 27% and further increases over three years for all education, communications and behaviour support workers employed by the Ministry of Education.
The settlement also included:
- Agreement to the principle of guaranteed minimum hours, starting with a minimum of 5 hours a week for all support workers on permanent variable hours.
- Agreement to a new four step pay scale so that support workers reach higher pay rates faster, with a fifth step recognising support workers with 10+ years’ experience.
- A qualifications and recognition of experience framework was added to the collective agreement in 2020.