In meetings around the country last week, NZEI members voted almost unanimously to move to a secret ballot after what they describe as months of stalling by the Ministry over a new collective agreement.

The Ministry has offered a 2% pay increase on the day of ratification and a further 2% on 1 September 2019.

Voting in the secret ballot closes next Monday night.

NZEI Te Riu Roa National Executive member Byron Sanders is on the negotiation team and said members felt insulted and demoralised when an offer was finally tabled.

"Our members’ caseloads are overwhelming. We need something tangible from the Ministry to reduce our workload, and an improved pay offer,” he said. 

“There aren’t enough specialists for the children who need the support, and those of us in the job are pushed to our limits with extreme workloads.

“We need more front-line specialists so all children get the support they need without delay, and we have to ensure specialist staff are paid enough to both recruit and retain their skills for our children.”

Learning Support specialists including educational psychologists, speech language therapists, early intervention teachers, advisors on deaf children, Kaitakawaenga, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech language therapists and special education advisors.

They provide specialist, itinerant support to children with the highest learning needs in schools and ECE centres, as well as their whānau, parents and caregivers, their teachers and teacher aides/support workers, and the early childhood centres and schools they attend.

The children are supported to participate in learning through adapted learning programmes and working one-to-one with specialists.