A WAGES agreement drafting error denying low-income educators pay entitlements headlines a school support staff triple blow that’s left many struggling to cope across the opening months of the year.
Tasmanian public education support personnel – already subjected to unpaid stand-down over Christmas – are the latest recipients of Rockliff Government contempt after being denied one-off low-income payments promised in the new Public Sector Unions Wages Agreement.
“It is utterly unacceptable that much needed cost of living relief won for support staff in the latest wages Agreement is being withheld from them as families grapple with rising costs,” said Australian Education Union Tasmania President David Genford.
“These one-off payments – won by members standing up and taking action for better working conditions – for many, are the difference between being able to pay this month’s bill or put food on the table.
“It’s time the Rockliff Government showed a commitment to its workforce who each and every day show an unrelenting commitment to their students.”
The drafting bungle, which has been left unresolved for two months as many support staff walk away from the profession, adds to a string of government pay errors to some of the lowest paid workers in schools.
Across the beginning of Term 1, teacher assistants and other support staff went unpaid for weeks due to delays in contracts and slow payroll response times.
Education Support Personnel also didn’t receive the entitlement of three paid Christmas Closure Days awarded to them as part of the new PSUWA. This was despite support staff voting for an offer which promised to provide additional paid days to alleviate the struggle of going six weeks without pay across summer.
Mr Genford said support staff, who would be joining teachers and principals in next week’s stop work action for more in class support, deserved more than just corrections to their pay.
“This is about the Rockliff Government showing respect for its workforce, which, through ongoing neglect for public education, it clearly isn’t doing,” he said.
“Respect means paying educators what they are entitled to, not leaving critical support staff, some of the lowest paid school staff, working without pay.
“A mistake that happens once is understandable, but three mistakes is just disrespect.
“Our educators desperately need more support in the classrooms as we deal with a deepening education crisis that’s hurting student learning and taking a very real toll on our educators.
“Tasmania’s educators are ever-ready to stand up and take action against untenable working and learning conditions until desperately needed in-class support solutions are implemented.”
The AEU is supporting members affected by the pay bungles, including pursuing penalty payments where applicable.