Kindergarten aide teachers are not paid locked up because their government-funded employers cannot afford it.
Employers are not required to pay their relief staff and do not have enough money to do so, which means that relievers have gone weeks without income.
Susan *, a kindergarten assistant teacher, was eager to get back to work in mid-August; she had been ill for a few weeks.
She is the breadwinner of her family and if she doesn’t work, they don’t pay her.
When the country fell into lockdown, it lost its income overnight.
Susan is not paid by her employer, a kindergarten trust funded by the regional government, because she is not working.
“We hear from many, many ways how important relievers are, but when it comes to a situation like this, I feel like we just don’t matter.”
Susan’s only option for support is to apply for a benefit. She cannot access the salary subsidy because she is an employee of the trust financed with public funds.
But instead of the benefit, you are choosing to live off your retirement savings.
“I felt reluctant to do that because I know there are a lot of people who have absolutely no money and desperately depend on it to get ahead … I just felt it wasn’t fair for me to go and try. Get money that way that I could. best used for people who desperately need it. “
Caroline, another early childhood aid teacher, was paid for the shifts she had booked during the first week of lockdown, but now her income has dried up.
She is employed by a government-funded regional kindergarten association and is fighting for an explanation as to why she cannot be paid during the shutdown.
“Nothing has been done so far to support the early childhood relievers and I thought it was only going to be while they had their ducks in a row, but we have heard from the ministry and there is no payment coming our way and it is not.” it doesn’t make sense to me. “
Caroline is considering leaving the sector.
“I don’t know if I will be able to continue being a kindergarten reliever in the future if it means that I will not receive support in the same way as other relievers.”
The advice of the Minister of Education for kindergartens that receive government funds is to use that money to support teachers and support staff during the closure.
New Zealand Kindergarten Executive Director Jill Bond says that’s unrealistic.
“The reason we use assistant teachers is to cover the absence of a permanent teacher, so in effect, if we pay them but they are not working, we double our salary costs, which we simply cannot afford.”
The association has presented the issue to Education Secretary Iona Holsted and Minister Chris Hipkins.
“We have raised this as an anomaly between the early childhood sector and the mandatory sector, where a special fund has been created to pay respite teachers in the mandatory sector during the Covid-19 closures.”
That fund compensates school relievers for the average hours they would work per week.
The chairman of the Council of Trade Unions, Richard Wagstaff, says the plan should also be implemented in the early childhood education sector.
“We think there is an opportunity to do something like this in the early childhood sector and talk to the industry about how they can get emergency support for this large workforce that has been caused, but nonetheless, we all trust them to do their part. job.”
Education Minister Chris Hipkins was not available for an interview.
In a statement, he said that the kindergartens operate independently of the government and are responsible for their own operating costs, so it is not appropriate to replicate the payment of teachers for school aid.
He suggested that kindergarten respite teachers contact MSD about the support available to them.
* RNZ has changed some names and removed locations to protect identities.