Government offers rejected resoundingly by secondary principals and teachers

PPTA Te Wehengarua members have rejected all recent offers by the government for settlement of the secondary principals’ and secondary teachers’ collective agreements and the area school teachers’ and area school principals’ collective agreements.

The government’s offer across all four collective agreements includes a pay offer over two years well below the projected cost of living. Schools would seriously struggle to recruit and retain specialist subject teachers at the pay rates proposed. The offers failed to address key conditions and staffing claims made by principals and teachers including claims for more guidance counsellors and other specialist staff to provide the school-based assistance that best meets students’ needs.

“We really hope the government improves the offers sufficiently to head off the likelihood of a summer of discontent in our schools next year. Teachers have voted decisively against the Government’s offer and decisively for industrial action,” says Melanie Webber, President of PPTA Te Wehengarua.

Teachers voted at paid union meetings around the country last week to take a one-day strike in Term 1 2023 and impose a ban on all internal relief cover from the start of Term 1 2023. The ban on internal relief cover means teachers would not give up their entitlement to planning and marking time within the school day to relieve for absent colleagues.

“Relievers are in short supply due to an overall teacher shortage, and the insecurity they faced during the pandemic. If a school can’t get a reliever they must fall back on the good-will of the teachers, to cover classes voluntarily during the time they are supposed to have for the myriad of preparation, marking and administrative tasks that are part of the job.”

“Throughout the pandemic of the last three years teachers have exercised a huge amount of goodwill, delivering hybrid lessons, and being available for students at all hours of the day to enable them to continue learning through COVID disruptions. We also continue to manage all the emotional, mental health and societal challenges that our students face, and which have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

“Investing in teachers is investing in our ability to meet the demands of an education system that has been through a pandemic. Salaries and conditions must be sufficient to keep teachers in the profession and attract graduates into teaching. There must be significantly more pastoral care staffing to work with students who are at risk of dis-engaging with schooling. The offer it has made is extremely disappointing and does nothing to address our valid concerns.”

Kate Gainsford, Chair of the Secondary Principals’ Council, says “Principals believe that the offers leave too many items open to lengthy, time-consuming explorations of ideas in working groups and the like without any firm resolution addressing core issues at the heart of our claim. Principals’ wellbeing needs to be supported and our workloads need to be manageable as we lead schools during a time of significant educational reform, ongoing teacher shortages and increasing numbers of students experiencing mental health and social challenges.”

 “There is no ignoring the widely held and deeply felt sense that the sector is undervalued by the government despite the 'thanks and appreciation' mentioned in dispatches. After three years of COVID disruption, there is nothing schools would like more than a settled 2023. Sensible improvements on these offers could make that happen.”

Last modified on Tuesday, 6 December 2022 15:07