Teachers take to the streets over pay

JOHN ANTHONY
Last updated 05:00 25/02/2013
Teacher of 36 years Colin Cowie, who retires next week, said the Novopay situation meant he was leaving on a ‘‘sour note’’.
JONATHAN CAMERON/Fairfax NZ
FED UP: Teacher of 36 years Colin Cowie, who retires next week, said the Novopay situation meant he was leaving on a ‘‘sour note’’.

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School staff protested in South Taranaki on Saturday over the troubled Novopay system.

Ramanui School principal Liz Harrison said up to 100 staff turned out in the Hawera town square to protest on Saturday morning.

"It was to let the public know that people they know are actually affected by this," Mrs Harrison said.

Staff from most schools in South Taranaki attended the protest, she said. The majority of teachers and support staff she knew had been affected by the Novopay disaster.

"Every pay day there's something new that you have to worry about. It's stressful and it's a bit demoralising," she said.

She knew staff who were close to giving up and finding work in a different sector, she said.

"From pay to pay we know there are going to be errors and we know there will always be errors."

Some staff were finding they were not receiving Kiwisaver payments or health insurance payments on certain weeks.

There was plenty of support from the public during the protest, with many suggesting the teachers should strike, she said.

Colin Cowie, 64, was one of four Novopay victims protesting in Stratford on Saturday.

The teacher of 36 years blamed the situation on "incompetence" from the Ministry of Education.

"I think it's an absolute shambles and a disgrace and doesn't reflect very well on anyone involved," Mr Cowie said.

Since December the Hawera High School employee had been underpaid, overpaid and not paid at all.

"I've got the trifecta."

Mr Cowie, who retires in a week, said the pay saga meant he was leaving on a "sour note".

He said ministry representatives needed to take responsibility for what had happened. He was protesting for two reasons, he said. First, to let the public know members of the community were Novopay victims and, secondly, because he felt it was the only thing within his power.

"There seems to be nothing else I can do.

"That's what's so frustrating, you're so powerless in this."

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- Taranaki Daily News

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