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