DESPITE working full-time, education support worker Kym Simpson finds it hard to make ends meet.
The mother-of-three, who has been at Ballarat High School for four years, said her job was high pressure, but offered very low pay.
“We are the lowest paid in Victoria, with two-thirds of the education support staff only earning between $38,000 to $45,000 a year,” Ms Simpson said.
“My husband is also an education support staff worker.
“It is very difficult to make ends meet.”
Ms Simpson said their three children — aged 16, 13 and 11 — had to miss out on some after school activities because of a lack of money.
“We have to be very careful with the choices we make,” she said.
“The children can’t attend all the extra-curricular activities that they want to.”
Education support workers like Ms Simpson will tomorrow stop work for the first time, joining many teachers in a massive statewide strike.
According to an Australian Education Union Victoria survey, 74 per cent of public education support staff said their level of pay sometimes made it difficult to make ends meet.
The survey of more than 2500 public education support workers also found 44 per cent were employed on a contract basis.
Ms Simpson, who is employed on an ongoing basis at the school, said education support staff were often the first to deal with parents.
“I love my job a great deal, although, at times, it is extraordinarily stressful,” she said.
Ms Simpson said this week would be the first time she had taken part in a strike and she was “very nervous” about doing it.
Negotiations for a new enterprise agreement between the Australian Education Union and the state government broke down earlier this month.
The union had called for a 10 per cent pay increase each year over three years, as well as addressing concerns over class sizes, work loads and a high level of contract employment.
Government spokeswoman Kristy McSweeney said the union’s demands were not sustainable.
“The government is offering to pay classroom teachers up to $95,000, but the union has refused this offer and instead pursued its case for an unsustainable 30 per cent pay rise,” Ms McSweeney said.