Settlement affirming, teacher aide says

Tahuna Normal Intermediate teacher aide Kyla Bolton revels in her work. PHOTO: CHRISTINE O’CONNOR
Tahuna Normal Intermediate teacher aide Kyla Bolton revels in her work. PHOTO: CHRISTINE O’CONNOR
For the first time in her 12-year career as a teacher aide, Kyla Bolton says she feels like a valued employee.

She is one of more than 22,000 school teacher aides across the country who have been offered a life-changing pay equity settlement, including pay increases of up to 28%.

She said it also felt like a huge weight had been lifted from her shoulders.

‘‘This will give us some disposable income that we can actually save for a rainy day.

‘‘Especially with inflation going up all the time — it’s going to make everything so much easier and take all that pressure off.

‘‘Some teacher aides I know have been just living from week to week.’’

The New Zealand Educational Institute, the union which represents primary and intermediate teachers, has been working on the pay equity campaign with the Ministry of Education since 2016.

Taken together with living wage pay increases won during collective bargaining late last year, most teacher aides will now receive pay rises of 23%-34% across the course of 2020 — an increase of $4 to $6.60 an hour.

It aimed to recognise the value of teacher aides’ skills, responsibilities and experience, which had been undervalued on the basis of gender.

Schools would be funded to pay the increased rates.

She said many people did not see the important role as a career, but that would now change.

‘‘I do this job because sometimes you are a child’s only advocate. Because you work with them so closely, they trust you and they know that they can come to you.

‘‘The teacher can’t always do it

... We need more teacher aides in schools. We see that on a daily basis.

‘‘You might have the funding for certain children, but there’s always other children that are not funded and do need that extra help that isn’t available for them.’’

NZEI members were still to vote online to endorse the settlement.

All teacher aides will start receiving the new pay rates by November 2020, backdated to February 12, 2020.

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