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Principals' Council letter to PM worsens dispute

Nick Smith National Education Spokesperson

7 June 2002

Principals' Council letter to PM worsens teachers' dispute

School principals are warning the Prime Minister of impending industrial chaos in schools if the Education Minister doesn't change tack over teacher pay negotiations, says National's Education spokesperson, Nick Smith.

"But it's obvious Helen Clark won't even care, judging by her patronising comments that teachers don't fully understand the pay offer, and that it's a very attractive package.

"A letter sent by the Principals' Council to the Prime Minister confirms what National has been saying - that the Education Minister did threaten to put off any further negotiation, and that teachers would go on individual contracts.

"The letter is very damaging to the Minister's reputation. It shows he has lost the confidence of the school principals and has been less than honest about what he said at his meeting with the Principals' Council last week.

"The Government's attempts to bully teachers into accepting a real pay cut by threatening individual contracts will backfire. It is the ultimate Judas act for a Labour Government that has historically been supported by teachers and unions.

"It just makes a sick joke of all Labour's lecturing about good faith bargaining. "The losers in this worsening crisis in secondary education are students.

Their exam preparation last year was disrupted and now NCEA assessments are not progressing. 13 days of learning have already been lost and hundreds of after-school activities cancelled. School morale is at an all time low.

"This crisis will only be resolved when the Government acknowledges the workload pressures on teachers, the problems of recruiting and retaining quality teachers and the need for teacher salaries to, at least, keep pace with inflation," says Dr Smith. Ends

ENDS

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