Strike ac­tion by high school teach­ers ‘likely’

Otago Daily Times - - DUNEDIN - JOHN LEWIS john.lewis@odt.co.nz

STRIKE ac­tion from sec­ondary school teach­ers is likely, given the mood gen­er­ated by the Govern­ment’s lat­est of­fer.

About 500 sec­ondary school teach­ers from the greater Dunedin area met en masse at the Otago Boys’ High School au­di­to­rium yesterday af­ter­noon for a Post Pri­mary Teach­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion (PPTA) union meet­ing to de­cide whether to turn the of­fer down, and if so, take in­dus­trial ac­tion.

Union del­e­gates said the re­sults of the vot­ing would not be re­leased un­til all 34 re­gional union meet­ings be­ing held around the coun­try (from Novem­ber 7­23) had been com­pleted.

How­ever, many at yesterday’s meet­ing were ‘‘very an­gry’’ with the lat­est of­fer, and be­lieved strike ac­tion was ‘‘likely’’.

PPTA mem­bers made a claim for sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments to pay and con­di­tions in Au­gust this year, on the ba­sis of a cri­sis of sec­ondary teacher short­ages and the com­pound­ing im­pact of un­sus­tain­able teacher work­load.

PPTA pres­i­dent Jack Boyle said the Govern­ment’s first of­fer ‘‘didn’t touch the sides’’ of ad­dress­ing the prob­lems of the pro­fes­sion.

Ear­lier this week, the union re­ceived a sec­ond of­fer, but af­ter care­ful anal­y­sis, it too was re­jected by the PPTA ex­ec­u­tive be­cause it was al­most ex­actly the same as the first one.

He said ev­i­dence from over­seas stud­ies showed teacher short­ages would never be ad­dressed if pay and con­di­tions for the pro­fes­sion were not at­trac­tive.

Fol­low­ing a meet­ing for Cen­tral Otago sec­ondary school teach­ers, held in Cromwell on Wed­nes­day, PPTA Otago rep­re­sen­ta­tive Joe Hunter, of Dunedin, said the union un­der­stood it would take time to bring the pro­fes­sion out of cri­sis, but teach­ers needed to have some short­term strate­gies to ad­dress what was hap­pen­ing in class­rooms.

Pri­mary and intermediate school teach­ers and prin­ci­pals will go ahead with their planned strike ac­tion across Otago and South­land on Thurs­day, de­spite the min­istry pro­vid­ing a new of­fer yesterday, with sig­nif­i­cant pay in­creases for NZEI mem­bers.

Min­istry sec­re­tary for ed­u­ca­tion Iona Hol­sted said the of­fer was worth $698 mil­lion, an in­crease of $129 mil­lion from the pre­vi­ous of­fer.

‘‘It means that most teach­ers would get be­tween $9500 and $11,000 ex­tra an­nu­ally in their pay pack­ets by 2020.

‘‘The of­fer also pro­vides for ad­di­tional pro­gres­sion on the pay scale.

‘‘Set­tling pay ne­go­ti­a­tions with NZEI is im­por­tant and we have done all we can to reach agree­ment. We know strike ac­tion is dis­rup­tive for chil­dren’s learn­ing and for par­ents.’’

PHOTOS: GREGOR RICHARDSON

Not im­pressed . . . Dunedin sec­ondary school teach­ers gather at the Otago Boys’ High School au­di­to­rium to vote on the Govern­ment’s lat­est pay of­fer.

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