Teachers' union considers legal action

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 05:00 23/02/2013

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Teachers are gearing up for legal action as a new report reveals more than a quarter of schools were hit by Novopay blunders in the first pay round of the year.

The Post Primary Teachers' Association executive, which represents 18,000 members, yesterday decided to consult lawyers over its options.

The move came as Novopay minister Steven Joyce disclosed details about pay period (PP) 23, for January 23 till February 5.

More than 1600 staff - 2.2 per cent of the workforce - were hit. Auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers said 552 staff were not paid by the flawed payroll system, 521 were overpaid and 589 underpaid. They were at 628 schools.

More than 8000 calls were made to the Novopay contact centre and the Ministry of Education.

As the Government struggles to get to grips with the payroll fiasco, Mr Joyce has ordered a series of reports. The audit by PWC will also take place for PP24, which was paid into bank accounts on Wednesday.

A draft technical audit to determine if Novopay's flaws are "terminal" is under way.

Over the weekend, troubled Australian provider Talent2 will roll out the first of three software upgrades, aimed at "the most significant bugs in the system".

But Mr Joyce warned the problems would "take some time to resolve".

Teachers are running out of patience as the saga drags into its seventh month.

PPTA president Angela Roberts thanked Mr Joyce for his sympathy, but said it doesn't pay the mortgage.

The PPTA was expecting to receive details of a "survival package" for schools at a Ministry of Education briefing on Thursday, but were left disappointed. Ms Roberts said the lack of support was building to a "pressure point".

"Why hasn't Joyce announced what he can do for schools to help them through this nightmare? This has to be made a higher priority," she said.

Looking at "legal channels" might be necessary.

"We will do what we need to do to make ministers understand that what is happening is far from acceptable."

Mr Joyce said officials were putting together recommendations on extra support to ministers "in the coming days".

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- The Dominion Post

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