Secondary teachers may strike next
‘‘I prefer to do bargaining at the bargaining table. No-one wants to see industrial action. There is still time to find a settlement.’’ Education Minister Chris Hipkins ‘‘There’s plenty of time between now and term 1 to show that good faith – that commitment . . .’’ PPTA president Jack Boyle
Secondary school teachers may be on strike when students return from the Christmas break.
Teachers were urged to reject the Government’s latest pay offer this week with the union calling it a disappointment and ‘‘completely unacceptable’’.
The Post Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA) recommendation came before paid union meetings began on Wednesday.
President Jack Boyle said a decision on what to do next, including potential strike action, would be made after November 23 and could mean teachers walked off the job in term one of next year.
Some of the items in the latest pay offer included a 3 per cent increase across all teacher pay grades over three years – up from 2.5 per cent for the highest salary group and a 2 per cent increase on all others in October’s offers.
But it did not match the 15 per cent the union asked for.
There was a $1500 middle and senior management allowance – up from $1400 since the first offer – and a pay increase for provisionally certified teachers’ salaries to match fully-certified teachers.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins has also pledged to find at least 400 overseas teachers for the 2019 academic year to ease shortages across the country, particularly in Auckland. He said this week that talk of a strike seemed ‘‘a bit early’’. ‘‘I prefer to do bargaining at the bargaining table. Noone wants to see industrial action. There is still time to find a settlement.’’
Hipkins has maintained the Government had heard the sector’s concerns and would work to alleviate pressures but that it would not happen overnight.
In early October he said the Government faced a ‘‘huge challenge’’ in increasing teacher supply but he was committed to ‘‘work with you to address the very legitimate issues that you’ve been raising’’.
When the 2018 budget was announced on May 17, he said it was a major step in the plan to rebuild the schooling system.
It included $394.9 million in capital funding for new schools and extra classrooms, and $694.4m in operating spending – including money for 1500 new teacher places by 2021. However, Boyle said the latest offer considered by teachers on Tuesday was ‘‘last-minute and halfhearted’’ but that the union would continue to negotiate in good faith.
A parental leave clause which meant payment would only be received once a teacher returned to work was a ‘‘disgraceful attempt’’ to cut costs, Boyle said.
The latest offers also wanted secondary teachers to agree to ‘‘reasonably’’ work as many hours as it would take to properly fulfil their responsibilities, ‘‘whether or not such hours exceed 40 hours per week’’.
‘‘There’s plenty of time between now and term 1 to show that good faith – that commitment to ensuring there are sufficiently trained, qualified, wellsupported, motivated teachers that we can recruit, support and retain.’’