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Minister Receives Hospital Pass from NZEI

Fri, 22 Oct 2004 1

Minister Receives Hospital Pass from NZEI

The recently heralded Consenting Parties Collective Agreement is not much more than a promise by employers to pay more, if and when the Minister of Education agrees to provide the "necessary" funding.

"NZEI's so called 'historic' announcement that the Government has given a commitment to funding pay parity for early childhood teachers over the next 4 years turns out to be a little bit of wishful thinking" said Mrs Thorne, Chief Executive Officer of the Early Childhood Council.

Investigations have revealed no such commitment from this Government.

The Early Childhood Council wholeheartedly supports the proposition of additional Government funding to allow employers to pay better teachers more.

"It is critical that we are able to recruit and retain sufficient numbers of quality staff in our sector, and for this to happen we must be in a position to be able to remunerate teachers appropriately" said Mrs Thorne.

The Consenting Parties Agreement covers less than 8% of centres in the sector, however most other employers would also be prepared to ensure that additional government funding, if and when available, will be passed on, as much as possible, to teaching staff.

Responsible employers however, would expect the cart to follow the horse, and sufficient funding to be secured before making such a promise.

The parties to the Consenting Parties Collective Agreement seem to be quite happy to call a parade for the cart, in the hope the horse might trot in from stage left when given the nod.

The parties to any employment agreement are legally obliged to act in Good Faith. The question has to be asked whether on this occasion raising staff expectations of substantial wage increases is consistent with this obligation, given the employers involved have no control over the funding of their promise.

The sector must view this event cautiously. This supposed historic agreement has not yet been ratified by the employees or the 150 employers involved, and the planned increases are subject to the Minister announcing he will provide "the money needed".

It now remains to be seen whether the Minister picks up the ball and runs with it, or drops the pass and risks disappointing his friends in the NZEI.

ENDS

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