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Secondary Teachers Will Enter Arbitration Process But Need Government Commitment

PPTA Te Wehengarua, the secondary school teachers’ union, will enter independent arbitration as a means of resolving the dispute over the Secondary Teachers’ Collective Agreement (STCA), as long as the government publicly commits to the outcome.

“We believe arbitration is the best step towards resolution of this dispute,“ says Chris Abercrombie, PPTA Te Wehengarua acting president. “The sooner teachers can return to a settled environment and concentrate on teaching and learning, the better for everyone. However, we do not see much point in going down this path unless there is a commitment from both parties to the arbitrator’s decision.

“To this end PPTA executive has agreed to recommend the outcome of arbitration to our members.”

Arbitration is a process for the settlement of disputes in which an independent and impartial arbitrator, or panel, makes a decision or recommendations after considering the representations of the parties.

When PPTA Te Wehengarua was involved in arbitration in 2002, the government at the time publicly committed to accepting the decision of the arbitration panel. “We need to see a similar gesture now,” says Chris Abercrombie.

He said industrial action would continue until an arbitration terms of reference (ToR) agreement was developed and approved by the national executive. This process would involve selection of the panel, setting a timeframe, agreeing what will be covered in the arbitration and a commitment to the outcome.

“We have asked the government for a public commitment to the arbitration outcome, and we are ready to meet with the Ministry of Education as soon as possible – hopefully today - to develop a ToR agreement.

“Once the ToR agreement is approved by the executive all industrial action in support of the secondary and area school teachers’ negotiations will be called off.”

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