News and views from PPTA president Angela Roberts.
Includes the PPTA News viewpoint and his responses to various education issues raised in the media.
(Angela began her presidency mid January 2013)
Jekyll & Hyde? Which government will arrive at the negotiating table this year?
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 February 2015 02:49
Dealing with the government in recent times has been a little like trying to work with Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. I am moved to wonder: which government will arrive at the negotiating table this year?
Best education policy is developed with teacher unions
Will it be the government that has shown it understands that the best way to develop education policy is to sincerely and robustly engage with teacher unions? Even though it was difficult to do so, last year we sat at the table with the government and hammered out a useful way to lock in pay and conditions for those of our members who will be involved in the IES initiative from this year. It would be great if they could finally concede that the traditional ideology of the right (that nothing good can come from working with unions) has been resoundingly proven wrong. Is it possible that John Key may want to continue to work with us to strengthen pay and conditions through our collective agreements?
Ensure fair pay and good working conditions
Will it be the government which has a minister of finance who recently demonstrated in the media his understanding of the difference between real and nominal pay rises? Bill English recently noted that we have had “quite a lot of restraint over recent years”. Five years of restraint, in fact. This will require a pretty good nominal increase to simply catch us up and close the real wage gap that has emerged. It’s good to know that we’re on the same page with that argument. If we want to avoid recruitment and retention problems then we must ensure fair pay and good working conditions. If we want a strong and successful public education system we need to invest in the profession.
Five years of pay restraint - teachers will require more than just a catch-up
The nominal wage increase that we need, however, will require more than just a catch-up. English has acknowledged the current demand for skilled people and stated his desire to “make sure that we’ve got public servants who feel they’re well motivated”. Great to hear.
Bargaining round will demonstrate value government places in teachers
It all sounds very encouraging but I’m nowhere near convinced that we will have a sensible bargaining round this year. The legislative changes pushed through by the government at the end of 2014 suggest that it does not really care about working people and doesn’t value teachers.
EDUCANZ legislation shows little respect for teaching profession
In throwing out the Teachers Council and replacing it with EDUCANZ, a body that will use stunts such as compulsory audits of appraisal and a code of conduct to control teachers, this government is showing how little respect it has for our profession. They appear to believe that we are so untrustworthy we can’t have any representatives that are accountable to teachers involved in the regulation of our own profession. This is despite more than 1500 select committee submissions that explained how destructive this move will be.
Employment legislation disregards workers right to a collective agreement
The government has also shown it doesn’t believe that workers have a fundamental right to access a collective agreement. With the removal of the obligation for employers to conclude the bargaining of collective agreements, I suspect the argument that “we should be grateful that the government is even at the table” will be trotted out at some time. How tiresome.
PPTA membership - a strong collective voice for teachers
So, despite some promising signs that the government is prepared to move outside of its comfort zone when working with us I suspect, when it comes down to discussing cold hard cash during bargaining, that it will revert to type. A strong collective membership voice will be required to persuade them what “fair” really looks and feels like. Any discomfort at the table will, I’m sure, see Dr Jekyll very quickly replaced by Mr Hyde.