By: Simon Collins

The Employment Relations Authority has agreed to hold urgent talks over the teachers’ pay claims, but unions say next week’s strike is still “full steam ahead” at this stage.

Post Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA) president Jack Boyle said the authority had granted a request from the Ministry of Education for “urgent facilitation”.

“We are awaiting a date for that meeting. We are full steam ahead planning for Wednesday,” he said.

The ministry applied to the authority for the talks last week after the PPTA and the primary teachers’ union, the NZ Educational Institute (NZEI), said their members had voted overwhelmingly for the country’s first combined strike by all primary and secondary teachers on May 29.

Area schools also joined the strike today, meaning the strike will now affect all state and integrated schools. Only teachers in private, non-integrated schools will keep working.

The Ministry of Education has offered both unions pay rises of 3 per cent a year for three years plus an extra step at the top of their pay scales which would bring the total pay rise to 12.6 per cent over three years for a majority of teachers.

But the unions are still demanding more non-contact time to cope with workloads which many teachers say are forcing them to work long hours.

NZEI president Lynda Stuart says pay is also still an issue for primary teachers because their last pay deal expired earlier than the secondary teachers, so primary teachers with the same qualifications now earn about 3 per cent less than their secondary counterparts.

The ministry is offering exactly the same percentage increases to both unions so it would not close the gap, although it says this is balanced by other concessions such as lifting the pay for primary teachers who don’t have degrees by much more than the standard 3 per cent a year.

Source: NZ Herald


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