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Time To Break The Impasse In Teacher Negotiations

Time To Break The Impasse In Teacher Negotiations -- NZSTA

The New Zealand School Trustees Association says it is time the impasse in the secondary school teacher negotiations is broken - and is offering a solution so both parties can move forward.

President Chris France says NZSTA proposes a short term, pragmatic solution, but with some long term commitments attached to it that may break the impasse and take the heat out of the current situation.

“NZSTA watched, like many New Zealanders, the on camera discussion between the Minister of Education and the President of PPTA on Wednesday morning. We were hopeful of a breakthrough but it seems to us that we simply saw further evidence of fixed positions that show no promise of it being resolved.

“A number of potential benefits which schools could usefully use to address their issues are “locked up” as part of the current offer and we need them now.”

Chris France says a high trust model needs to be developed within the sector which gives boards and principals the financial and human resources to address urgent needs and encourage excellence in their own schools. The potential benefits include addressing hard to staff positions, additional management units, teacher supply allowance for high priority situations, second year teacher support and many other initiatives.

He says NZSTA proposes that the PPTA accepts the Government’s offer of a 3.5% pay increase, but that this is only for a 15-month period from 1 July 2001. Effectively this would mean that the new agreement would expire in six months.

“This would mean that all industrial action would cease and teachers, students and the rest of the school community get back to the business of quality education. Teachers benefit from an immediate settlement while we work on the outstanding issues at the same time.”

However he says as part of the settlement the parties need to commit to working together to address the issues identified within the six month timeframe. NZSTA representing the boards would work alongside the parties in a tripartite process.

Chris France says addressing these three issues by October will clear the way and establish the path forward for further negotiations later this year.

The issues are:

- Putting some meat on the bones of exactly how Government will deliver the 1850 extra teachers already committed to by 2006.

- A working party charged with finding new ways of responding quickly to issues relating to teacher quality and supply in areas of urgent need.

- A working party to resolve the issue of teacher qualifications required and how they relate to salary.

He says the timeline makes sense as these matters can also be included as necessary, in the Government budget cycle for 2003. It will give time to provide the hard information necessary to start the new teacher negotiations with some mutually agreed understandings and expectations.

“One of the frustrations boards and principals are currently dealing with is that the tools to address these needs are not currently available to them. Providing these tools must be a matter of high priority and in doing so, is entirely consistent with their self governing self managing roles.

“We call on Government and the PPTA to seriously consider the above proposition as a means of breaking the current impasse.”


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