Sec­ondary teach­ers may strike next

The Press - - News - Jes­sica Long jes­sica.long@stuff.co.nz

‘‘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.’’

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