Teachers vote on pay agreement

Pastoral care for students is one of the top priorities for secondary teachers, as they vote on the Government’s proposed collective agreement.

Members of the Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA Te Wehengarua) met at Wakatipu High School yesterday after the association’s national executive decided to reject the most recent offer.

The union has been in negotiations with the Ministry of Education for about six months to provide more staff and better workload control, but the new agreement hasn’t offered the latter, PPTA said in a media release last week.

Chair of the Southland region Bill Claridge also said the Government’s pay proposal wasn’t adjusted to the high cost of living and the feedback he’d received from teachers was "mainly negative".

Southland’s chairman for PPTA Te Wehengarua Bill Claridge outside Wakatipu High School yesterday,...
Southland’s chairman for PPTA Te Wehengarua Bill Claridge outside Wakatipu High School yesterday, where members voted on a proposed collective employment agreement. PHOTO: RHYVA VAN ONSELEN
The union’s junior vice-president Chris Abercrombie said the decision-making was not all about the pay, but giving students what they needed.

The ministry proposed an average of three-quarters of a teacher per school to take care of pastoral needs including guidance counselling but the union wanted two and a-half, he said.

Mr Abercrombie has been a teacher for about 16 years, and said schools saw a significant surge in the number of students requiring support for increasingly complex needs.

"It reflects society ... if there’s a problem in our communities there is a problem in schools", he said.

Around 40 members attended the paid union meeting yesterday afternoon, which gave teachers the opportunity to share their thoughts, Mr Abercrombie said.

Voting on the pay proposal will continue at meetings held over the coming week, in Te Anau on Thursday and Invercargill next Monday, Mr Claridge said.