Teacher aides fight for living wages

By Taroi Black

A Tuhoe mother is scared to go shopping in case her card declines. Judith Boynton, 51, a teacher aide in South Auckland who helps children with special needs earns less than the trolley pushers at her local supermarket.

“Getting to the checkout and wondering whether my card is going to decline.”

Boynton is pushing the Government to finally pay a living wage of $21.15 per hour. Even after working 7 years as a teacher aide she has never received a pay-rise.

Her pay has only changed as the Government raised the minimum wage over the years.

South Auckland teacher Kristen Thomas said her son's first job this year as a checkout operator, pushing trolleys for the same wage getting isn't fair, she says.

“I started on $15 in 2012 and currently today I’m on $17.74,” Boynton says.

This comes as 18,000 teacher aides who are members of NZEI speak out in rallies across the country this week over pay equity.

For Boynton, she does her mahi for the love and empathy of her daughter Kauri-Leigh who was diagnosed with Autism at 3 years old.

“I took the job because it fitted her and she was unwell for many years.”

Minister for Education Chris Hipkins told Te Ao Māori News negotiations around the pay gap are underway.

“The way they're treated at the moment isn't fair or sustainable.

"One is that they got their current collective agreement for negotiations. There's a pay-equity in the system from them and they are part of the education workforce strategy which will deal with some of the issue that they are addressing."