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Awatere Huata urges class action against Minister

Friday 18th Feb 2000
Donna Awatere Huata
Media Release -- Education

ACT education spokesperson Donna Awatere Huata wants the School Trustees Association to organise boards of trustees to bring a class action against the Minister of Education Trevor Mallard. She says Mr Mallard has broken the sanctity of contract by making it possible for contracts signed between principals and boards of trustees to be broken.

"The Minister has allowed the union-negotiated Primary Principals' Employment Contract to be extended to cover principals who are not members of the teachers' union and therefore not covered by it. All the principal has to do is to sign a form and the contract they signed with the board of trustees is cancelled. There is no requirement for them to discuss this with their employer or even to inform them. This would not be tolerated in any other kind of work.

"The Ministry form that announces this says that the new agreement "will supercede those arrangements". This is a bureaucratic way of saying that Government will not honour contracts that boards of trustees entered into, in good faith, with their employees. The rule of law is fundamental to civilised society. A contract is an agreement that binds both parties. Mr Mallard's actions are interfering in the relationship between employer and employee, without notice, without consultation, and without respect for their mana.

"Low-performing principals whose bonuses have been withheld pending improvements will be able to get them without making those improvements. That is, they have been empowered by Mr Mallard to carry on doing a bad job and still get the money. Yet ERO reports tell us that the principal's performance is the main factor in whether a school is high or low performing. These principals can now come under the protection of the unions.

"It's time for the School Trustees Association to take action. Complaining in the media will not make any difference at all. The only option open to them is to organise the country's 2,500 boards of trustees to bring a class action."

End

Contact Donna Awatere Huata 04 4706625 or Kathryn Asare 04 4706637

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.


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