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Labour accuses Govt of deserting Novopay teachers

Friday 21 Dec 2012 2:27 p.m.

Labour is calling on Cabinet ministers to cut short their summer holidays and get back to work to fix the problems with Novopay.

Today is the last payday before Christmas for teachers and support staff, and once again there's been a slew of problems.

Education Minister Hekia Parata is on holiday and her Associate Minister Craig Foss is directing all media calls to the Ministry.

Labour Party MP Chris Hipkins says they need to be back at their desks.

“I think they should be in their offices asking some really serious questions, about whether Novopay will ever be able to deliver an on-time, accurate payroll system,” he told RadioLIVE this afternoon.

“If it can’t, they need to be looking now at what they’re going to do about it.”

The Ministry of Education says 43,000 payments were made overnight, but they won't know how many errors were made until later today.

The principal of Auckland's Snells Beach School, Jill Corkin, told Radio New Zealand new issues had arisen in the latest pay round, with teacher aides overpaid.

She says that was unexpected, after spending 10 hours in the past week battling to get a payment for a part-time worker who has not been paid properly since August.

"I was breathing a sigh of relief, not expecting anything else, and then we're hit with these overpayments to two other people which I just wasn't expecting and $5000 being deducted from our account that I wasn't expecting at all."

Ms Corkin says she has heard similar reports from principals elsewhere in Auckland.

She has had issues getting the message across to the people behind Novopay.

"Once you actually get through there, the people that you're speaking to on the other end of the phone just simply don't understand school payrolls and that has not improved at all."

Another principal, Denise Torrey from Christchurch's Somerfield School, says "bizarre things" have happened this pay round.

"We've had staff members who we haven't seen or employed for 18 months or two years now getting a significant amount of money. We've had holiday pay that was meant to be sorted out last time actually being paid again, and it's a totally bizarre calculation."

The latest bungles come just days after Education Ministry head Lesley Longstone quit because of "strains" between herself and Ms Parata.

Ms Parata has delegated authority for Novopay to Associate Education Minister Craig Foss, who said six weeks ago that he had received assurances that holiday pay would go through on time.

3 News/NZN

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