Teacher union rejects pay offer

TALIA SHADWELL
Last updated 06:20 13/11/2012

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Palmerston North primary school teachers have rejected the Government’s initial pay offer, with union leaders citing concerns that reforms will pit teachers against one another.

Meanwhile, the Government hopes to reach agreement by Christmas as teachers’ collective agreements are now expired.

The New Zealand Educational Institute’s 177 primary school teacher union members in Palmerston North who attended the start of two 

weeks of nationwide paid union meetings voted unanimously to reject the Education Ministry’s offer.

Unions plan to meet with the ministry in two weeks’ time.

The introduction of national standards, performance pay, charter schools and school closures in Christchurch were all raised at the Palmerston North meeting.

NZEI Te Riu Roa Palmerston North union representative Liam Rutherford has a place on the negotiating team.

He said teachers planned to use the pay discussions to dispute what they see as a shift toward a business model-based education system, termed a global education reform movement (Germ) that imitates United States and British models.

Germ characteristics include competition, standardisation, test-based accountability and ‘‘choice’’ for parents which would create rivalry between schools and teachers, Mr Rutherford said.

‘‘We are a bit disappointed that the ministry is still heading down this path,’’ he said. ‘‘It encourages [competition] in schools and isn’t in the best interests of children.’’

Education Ministry student achievement deputy secretary Rowena Phair said the Government was looking to reach a settlement as soon as possible.

‘‘The Ministry of Education has made a fair offer for settlement of the Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement. 

‘‘We hope primary teachers will see we’ve made a fair offer in the current environment. The PTCA has now been expired for three months. We would like to see a settlement before Christmas, and hope the NZEI is as committed as we are to genuine progress towards this.’’

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- Manawatu Standard

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