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Minister Comment On PPTA Action Plan

12 March 2001

Education Minister Trevor Mallard said the PPTA should give negotiations a chance before launching into widespread action plans which could cause severe disruption to secondary students’ education.

“We settled the secondary teachers’ collective agreement in good faith in December last year, making major concessions on non-contact time and confirming my intention to increase the number of teachers in schools to achieve that settlement. We believed that the settlement met the priorities identified by the PPTA members prior to and during the bargaining.

“When secondary school teachers narrowly decided not to ratify the settlement their union executive had agreed to, the government offered to go back into negotiations as soon as possible. That was three weeks ago.

“It is my view that with this announced action, the PPTA has not given that process a chance to achieve a result. It is premature and misguided.

“I also believe that some of their action goes beyond what is fair and calls the professionalism of teachers into question.

“What kind of point are teachers trying to make by denying students their results even though they are marking them? I think parents and students will find that kind of action petty and not in good faith.”

Trevor Mallard said teachers also had to accept that the Government did not have a bottomless pit of money.

“I wish we did. But New Zealanders voted for a government prepared to exercise fiscal constraint. What we are trying to do is work within those constraints whilst recognising the value of teaching as a profession and teachers’ workloads.

“That is why we agreed, as part of the original settlement, to a comprehensive package which included provision for non-contact time in the contract and an offer to increase the number of secondary teachers by 1850 over the next five years.

“The package included pay increases from 3.5 to more than ten percent for some members. There was also the start of a subsidised superannuation scheme, and one half a day per week additional non contact hours for second year teachers. The government is willing to support a new settlement - we want to resolve this dispute as soon as possible so that teachers can focus on teaching and all of us can focus on quality learning outcomes for all students.

“But teachers and their supporters must realise that there is not a lot of extra cash,” Trevor Mallard said.


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