Music tutors appeal to ministry for pay rise

After 19 years of wage stagnation, Out of Hours Music tutors say it is time for a change. Photo:...
After 19 years of wage stagnation, Out of Hours Music tutors say it is time for a change. Photo: Ben Tomsett
Out of Hours Music tutors are appealing to the Ministry of Education for higher pay after 19 years of a stagnant hourly wage.

Southland music tutor Jenna Pottinger said that most tutors spend a significant amount of time throughout the week preparing lessons and resources, but are only paid for the time they spend in front of the students — an hourly wage that has been unchanged since 2004.

"That doesn’t seem fair to have to wait that long to be heard," she said.

Out of Hours Music tutors are at present funded by the Ministry of Education under the Out of Hours Music and Arts (OOHMA), which provides professional tuition for children in years 1 to 8.

"We ask for the bare minimum, just to pay for power and photocopying and other bits and pieces that we absolutely have to pay for, but the rest of it is for the love of the kids — which is only gonna go so far when we run out of tutors down here."

The lack of funding was directly related to the struggle for schools to take on new tutors, some of whom had world-class experience, she said.

"These are people who play in the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra — they’re really talented musicians, really inspiring people — but we just just can’t pay them anywhere near what they deserve or the cost of servicing their instruments alone, let alone everything else that they have to pay to be at that level."

The New Zealand Post Primary Teachers’ Association Te Wehengarua (PPTA) is now negotiating a collective agreement for Out of Hours music teachers, as well as engaging a lawyer to take legal action against the ministry for underpaying.

Ministry of Education education workforce hautū Anna Welanyk confirmed the ministry had been negotiating with the PPTA for the renewal of the Adult and Community Education collective agreement, including those involved in the ministry’s OOHMA programmes.

"This is the first time that a collective agreement has been negotiated for OOHMA tutors. While we are unable to discuss the specific detail of matters which are being discussed in ongoing negotiations, due to our good faith obligations, we can advise that the Government is committed to ensuring all those working in the education sector are fairly paid.

"We expect to meet again in the next few weeks."