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Support Staff, Boards and Strikes

Many teacher aides, office staff, librarians and other support staff members in primary schools have been asking what their rights are on the day when primary teachers and principals go on strike and what to expect.  The important thing to know is that the Board of Trustees as your employer is responsible for making decisions about whether the school is open for instruction or closed on the strike day and what that will mean for support staff.

We recommend that all NZEI Te Riu Roa support staff members in a school discuss the situation together and collectively ask your board to provide answers to your questions.  We have suggested some questions below that you might like to ask.

All principals who are NZEI Te Riu Roa members will be on strike on the 15th, so it is the board’s responsibility (not the principal’s) to make decisions and arrangements about what happens for staff who are not on  strike (including support staff) on the strike day.

We recommend you seek clarity about the following questions

  1. Is the board planning to close the school for instruction?
  2. What is the board’s plan for support staff –will they be required at school that day?
  3. What will the board be communicating to parents?
  4. Who on the board will complete any paperwork required by the Ministry and/or other agencies such as Novopay?
  5. What work will Support Staff be given to do if they are required at school? If it replaces the work of a striking teacher then it is not appropriate
  6. Who is the designated BOT contact on this issue? How can they be contacted? Who is the emergency contact on the day (because it cannot be any NZEI Te Riu Roa member).
  7. If the Board is not closing the school and is requiring support staff to attend, what steps will the Board be taking to ensure it is meeting its obligations to provide a healthy and safe workplace as set out in the Health and Safety in Employment legislation?

For more information you can check here or contact the NZEI Te Riu Roa Members Support Centre on 0800 693 443.

If the teachers’ and principals’ rallies in your area (they are all listed on our website) are taking place at a time that you do not normally work, you would be very welcome to participate in those activities. Fundamentally, the Kua Tae Te Wā campaign is all about securing better resourcing for schools. That would benefit all those who work in schools, as well as all students

Some specific information from the commonly asked questions for support staff when teachers are on strike is set out below.

What does this mean for support staff (including caretakers and directly employed cleaners)?

This is an historic decision for teachers and principals to make. If you’re a support staff member, please show your support by getting involved in your school’s community action day on Friday 3 August. You can find more resources to help you talk to parents, family and friends here and a handy flyer here.

For support staff it is important to know that employers should pay support staff if you normally work on 15 August, even if your school is closed.

Strikes by teachers and principals do not affect support staff as you are not part of their collective agreements, so you should be paid even if the school is closed. The Board of Trustees decides whether the school will remain open or not.

If it is not, and you are required to work, provided that you have made it clear that you are available for work you should also be paid. However, you should not do the work of a striking teacher member.

 

The situation with regard to who will be paid during the strike:

Will I be paid? If your school is closed If your school is open
Support staff (including caretakers and directly employed cleaners) Yes, you are entitled to be paid Yes, you are entitled to be paid
Non-member teacher Yes Yes
Striking teacher No No
Non-striking member No.

Non-striking members are deemed to be on strike and will not be paid.

No.

Non-striking members are deemed to be on strike and will not be paid.