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Staff threaten walkout over pay fiasco

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 06:31 05/11/2012

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School staff are threatening to walk off the job rather than bear the brunt of dealing with the Education Ministry's botched pay system.

Staff have spent "depressing" hours of their own time, unpaid, trying to fix problems out of pure concern for their fellow colleagues, a Lower Hutt principal says.

At least two Wellington schools have had staff threaten to resign and one school principal has even told staff to down tools and leave it to the ministry.

While the Post Primary Teachers' Association has been flooded by schools "crying for help" over the massive increase in workload, the Education Ministry has promised to discuss the possibility of compensation at an upcoming meeting.

Thirty of Sacred Heart principal Lisl Prendergast's staff had "dodgy" pay issues, including one who had been overpaid $9000.

"We've got young staff with young families who literally live from pay day to pay day. That's how they live, so you don't want them to have inaccurate pay."

She felt schools were doing all the work for the ministry, using an online system riddled with glitches that left her staff spending three days just gaining access.

Two of her staff had spent about 10 hours a week dealing with Novopay issues, and six days in the holidays for training and making sure staff were paid.

Ms Prendergast said she was lucky her deputy principal was also a chartered accountant and not a "picky" union member who knew Novopay administration was not in her job description.

She knew of two schools whose staff had either refused to deal with it, or threatened to resign. Another school's principal had told staff to ignore Novopay issues and leave it up to Government.

"We're running around absolutely chasing our tails in schools."

PPTA general secretary Kevin Bunker said schools were at their wits' end having to put their jobs aside to deal with Novopay. Staff were not free labour who were "indentured servants to Novopay", he said.

He had heard of staff threatening to leave, and sought compensation to ease their burden.

The ministry's Novopay business owner, Rebecca Elvy, said she was "very aware" and appreciative of the time and effort put in by school staff during the implementation.

The possibility of compensation to school staff would be discussed at a meeting today.

Contact Jody O'Callaghan
Education reporter
Email: jody.o'callaghan@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @miss_jodyo

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- The Dominion Post

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