Ministry pay glitch is karma, quips Parata

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 05:00 31/01/2013
PUBLIC FACE OF BLUNDERS: Education Minister Hekia Parata.
KENT BLECHYNDEN/Fairfax NZ
EDUCATION MINISTER: Hekia Parata.

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Education Ministry staff received little sympathy from their minister, Hekia Parata, after their pay did not arrive as expected yesterday morning.

The glitch gave an unwanted taste of what teachers have been going through with Novopay - and the minister quipped that it was ‘‘karma’’.

During the recent Cabinet reshuffle, Prime Minister John Key defended Parata as one of the "smoothest communicators" in politics.

She said yesterday that she had been briefed about the pay disruption. "Yeah, karma, eh?"

But Labour education spokesman Chris Hipkins said her "glib dismissal" was outrageous, and he called on Key to tell her to apologise.

"Hekia Parata might think she is being cute by suggesting her own officials deserve not to be paid because of the Novopay stuffup, but I doubt ministry workers are laughing.

"Is this the sort of ‘smooth communication' from Hekia that John Key was talking about when he kept her on as his minister of education?"

Ministry staff are not paid through Novopay, but through PS Enterprise, provided by Northgate-Arinso.

A lower North Island teacher, who did not want to be named, said that, after dealing with his Novopay issues, it was adding "insult to injury" that his wife failed to get paid yesterday morning.

"In the face of what's currently happening, all that the ministry needs is another pay glitch somewhere. It will no doubt be an embarrassment for them."

A ministry spokeswoman confirmed the glitch, and said it was working to ensure staff were paid by today. It had assured staff they would not be financially disadvantaged as a result of the error.

"We apologise to staff for the delay and have talked with Westpac to ensure the payroll goes through this evening."

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