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NZEI Negotiations Enter Critical Week

MEDIA RELEASE
FROM NZEI Te Riu Roa

NZEI Negotiations Enter Critical Week

NZEI Te Riu Roa and the Ministry of Education return to the negotiation table for three further days of talks this week knowing that progress must be made to avoid the union calling paid union meetings in school time next month to consider industrial action.

The union is negotiating collective agreements for 28,000 teachers and principals at primary, intermediate and area schools. There have been seven days of talks since NZEI tabled its claims on June 10. The Ministry has tabled an offer on pay but has rejected the following major claims which address problems threatening the quality of education delivered to 480,000 children:
- non contact time for teachers to ease their excessive workload.
- ensuring teachers who hold additional teaching qualifications, are paid no less than teachers who have additional non-teaching qualifications.
- ensuring deputy/assistant principals and senior teachers are rewarded for the extra workload and responsibilities they undertake in schools.
- ensuring new teachers entering a demanding profession are supported so they stay in teaching.

Last week NZEI teachers and principals attended 92 meetings nationwide for an update from the union on the negotiations and were angry to hear the Ministry had rejected their major claims.

"They are angry that the Ministry and the government refuse to recognise that their workload has risen to the point that the average working week for an NZEI teacher is now more than 50 hours long with some teachers working up to 86 hours a week,” says NZEI Te Riu Roa National President, Colin Tarr.

“This is due to the massive amount of work they have to complete on top of the time they spend in the classroom teaching. This work has risen to the point that they now spend more time doing this than they do teaching children.”

“They are also angry that the Ministry and government are paying teachers with non teaching qualifications more than those with additional teaching qualifications, even though the teaching qualifications help make them more effective teachers.”

“At last week’s meetings NZEI teachers and principals made it clear that they expect the Ministry and government to start recognising these problems.”

“To show they are serious they voted to authorise the union’s National Executive to call paid union meetings in school time next month, at which they will consider taking industrial action, if sufficient progress is not made during this week’s negotiations.”

"NZEI teachers and principals have shown a huge amount of goodwill over the last decade and got on with the job as these problems mounted. But now the problems are threatening the quality of the education they provide and they are not prepared to see the future of the children they teach compromised,” says Colin Tarr.

Negotiations resume on Tuesday (August 10) and run until Thursday (August 12). NZEI's National Executive will meet on Friday (August 13) to review what progress has been made and to consider the union’s next step.

ENDS

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