A Northland principal is calling for heads to roll at the
Education Ministry as the Novopay debacle continues into the
Christmas holiday period.
The $30 million staff payroll system by Australian firm
Talent2 has been causing headaches since it was introduced in
Education Minister Hekia Parata dismissed initial complaints
and assured principals the problems would be ironed out in
the first few weeks. However, errors have continued almost
Principals told the Northern Advocate of administrators
reduced to tears and office staff spending large chunks of
their working week checking payments and sorting out errors.
Horahora School principal Pat Newman said schools had been
promised there would no problems with the Christmas holiday
payments. Last week's pay run, however, was riddled with
overpayments and other errors.
Last Tuesday his office lady was almost in tears after
spending all day checking for errors and alerting staff who'd
been overpaid so they didn't spend the money wrongly credited
to their accounts - only to be told at the end of the day the
pay run would be re-calculated.
Mr Newman said questions had to be asked about the original
contract and why Talent2 was not being hit with penalty
clauses. He also questioned why Associate Minister Craig Foss
was dealing with questions on Novopay, when it should be the
"We expected some errors at the start but this has been going
on for 10 weeks.
"We've heard promises time and time again, but the time for
promises has passed. We now have no confidence in those
making the promises."
Mr Newman said Secretary of Education Lesley Longstone should
take responsibility and resign. While she was not in the job
when the contract was let, she did advise the minister to go
"If it was me, I'd be fired tomorrow," he said.
Last week Kaitaia College's board of trustees billed the
ministry for more than $7000 in extra administration costs,
although the true figure was thought to be twice that.
Principal William Tailby said the biggest problems involved
support staff such as caretakers, teacher aides and office
staff, but there were also difficulties with teachers being
underpaid and pay increases not being received.
After the latest payments the college was in the difficult
position of having to ask overpaid staff to pay the money
back, when it was not the school's mistake. Mr Tailby said
the situation had him "very, very frustrated and concerned".
Education Ministry chief information officer Leanne Gibson
said the ministry and Talent2 were working hard to make sure
holiday payments went through as smoothly as possible. Delays
in holiday payments to some staff were regretted.
- The Northern Advocate