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President Reflects, Calls For Unified Future

\Sunday September 21 September 19, 2003
From: NZEI Te Riu Roa Media Release

NZEI President Reflects On Past, Calls For Unified Future

NZEI Te Riu Roa National President, Bruce Adin, has today (Sunday September 21) looked back on the union’s 120 year past and highlighted the need for greater unity in the future among teachers in the state sector.

In his keynote speech on the first day of the union’s 120th Annual Meeting, Bruce Adin, spoke of the need to end the divisive approach of separate pay negotiations for primary and secondary teachers.

A paper on a Unified Teaching Profession will be discussed by delegates at the Annual Meeting from 10.30am to midday on Tuesday September 23. The paper sets out the NZEI vision for the future and proposes that teachers employed by the state in the early childhood, primary and secondary sectors, should be covered by a single collective employment agreement. This would include the unified pay scale that currently covers primary and secondary school teachers.

“Ultimately, of course we would hope the vision of a unified teaching profession would be shared by all education sectors,” Bruce Adin told 400 members of the union gathered for the start of their Annual Meeting.

“This would not only ensure a seamless transition from early childhood to tertiary but also put an end to separate sector pay settlements which have proved time and again to be divisive.”

A clear example of the problems caused by this divisive approach is the dispute over qualifications that arose from the ruling by the arbitration panel set up to settle the secondary teachers’ dispute.

“What the panel was saying was that someone with a degree in landscape gardening, and one year at a college of education or university, was better qualified to teach than someone who had completed a three year Bachelor of Teaching and a one year graduate diploma, or a three year diploma of teaching and had years of experience in the classroom. There was no way NZEI was going to stand for that.”

Bruce Adin told the delegates that NZEI has got the Minister of Education to agree to a working party that has begun the job of resolving this issue. It is developing a plan for primary teaching qualifications based on sound educational principles.

He said this was an example of the NZEI style and the key to the union’s success since it was founded by 18 educators, who met at a school in Christchurch in 1883, to form an institute that would ‘promote the interests of education within the colony of New Zealand.’

“NZEI now spans three centuries and is going from strength to strength. That’s no idle boast. We are the largest education union in New Zealand. Actual membership in mid 2003 was 42,390, the highest membership numbers in the history of NZEI. The number of new members is 2008 higher than at the same time last year.”

“We have never been a sloganeering militant organization. Our victories, and there have been many, have nearly always been achieved with reasoned argument, solid research and a willingness to engage in the political process of change, backed up by the solidarity of our members,” Bruce Adin told the delegates.
Bruce’s speech is at 1pm, Sunday Sept 21, Duxton Hotel, Wakefield St, The Ballroom, 6th Floor


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