Teachers strike

Written By: - Date published: 9:56 am, August 30th, 2010 - 66 comments
Categories: education, wages - Tags: ,

As has seemed likely for some time now, secondary teachers have decided to strike:

Secondary school teachers have voted overwhelmingly to strike after rejecting the Government’s latest pay offer.

Thousands of Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) members last week voted for strike action after earlier voting to stop pay talks with the Ministry of Education. Teachers want a 4 percent pay rise, while the ministry is offering a 1.5 percent rise.

The first nationwide day-long strike could take place within the next fortnight, and further strikes could follow.

PPTA president Kate Gainsford said today the ministry had set the tone for negotiations by proposing a number of claw-backs. Discussions around issues such as capping class sizes and free influenza immunisations for teachers had been shut down, she said. …

The PPTA was still open to further negotiations. “We’ve called off strikes before, we’ll do it again if we see movement of the kind that we need to see,” Ms Gainsford said.

Tolley has failed here, as she has failed in primary schools with national standards.

Education Minister Anne Tolley urged the PPTA to get back around the bargaining table. “It’s (the strike action) extremely disappointing and won’t be welcomed by parents,” she said.

She’s right, parents won’t welcome the strikes. Expect a few angry vox pop spots as the media have a wallow in it. But parents would welcome even less the falling of educational standards that will follow rising class sizes and the erosion of conditions for teachers. Before buying this unnecessary fight Tolley should remind herself that we the people are rather more fond of teachers than we are of politicians…

66 comments on “Teachers strike”

  1. Education Minister Anne Tolley urged the PPTA to get back around the bargaining table.

    The only problem is that she expects Teachers to get back around the table but agree to her original offer. There is no sign of any flexibility on the part of the Government nor is there any realisation about the difficulty in retaining experienced teachers in the profession caused in part by low wages but also by the refusal to listen to them when implementing bizarre policies such as National Standards.

    • bbfloyd 1.1

      i,m assuming that you aren’t surprised by the nats tactics this time. personally, i can’t remember a time when they have used any other method, except when (don)keys spin doctors detect a large enough groundswell of distaste for what they are trying to perpetrate.

  2. Parents know and understand how tough the job of being a teacher is. I have lost track of how many times a parent or someone from the community has said to me “I wouldn’t/couldn’t do your job!”

    Also this govt has stated that we need to have equal pay with Aussie. Teachers in Queensland and South Australia both got increases in the double figures.

    If we want to keep the best and brightest, we need better conditions, better pay and more importantly more respect from the politicians for education.

  3. As a parent with kids in secondary school, i wholeheartedly support the teachers strike for better pay and working conditions.

    And if it means, on the strike days, i have to put the kids to work, here at home, weeding the garden and doing the big spring clean around the place…then so be it !!!

  4. smhead 4

    If Tolley has failed then Mallard failed in 2004 when the PPTA went on strike then, and Mallard accused them as unprofessional

    http://tvnz.co.nz/content/86926/423466/article.html

    • Bob Stanforth 4.1

      Sits back and waits for smhead’s banning…

      On the grounds of, um, lets see…

      Honesty
      It was different back then
      Just cos

      Radical idea. Lets rank teachers based on the outcomes they deliver (which should be around how they advance their pupils during a year, based on test outcomes) and pay them a performance based compensation package, like we do in the private sector.

      Good and great performers get more, average get benchmark, bad and poor get less. Bad and poor performers get to take special ‘how to teach more betterer’ lessons (don’t bother, its intentional) and we raise education standards, morale and pay.

      Had the discussion with 3 teachers this morning at my kids school, they all agreed it was a great idea, but that it would never happen under the union.

      Pity really.

      • mickysavage 4.1.1

        It does not work. Teaching is a cooperative profession and teachers have to be supportive of each other. Making them all compete makes them less effective.

        Benchmarks do not work. All you then have is teaching to the benchmark and education has to be way bigger than this.

        It is not like selling used cars.

        It is a shame that some see the whole of society as a continuous process of buying and selling things.

        • Bob Stanforth 4.1.1.1

          Thats right, because being in business isnt cooperative, its every man for himself. What a crock. Businesses succeed because everyone pulls in the same direction for the same outcomes – cooperatively. They fail when people dont do that.

          They do not need to compete with each other, I did not say that and its not required – setting a standard and providing the tools to achieve that standard is – and then also providing the rewards for achieving or bettering, and the support mechanisms for when they cant or dont.

          And yes, I agree with your last statement, it is a shame – but my comments did not outline or support that, as you would know if you had read them and understood them.

          • Dorothea 4.1.1.1.1

            Sorry you feel the way you do. I have never worked in a more cooperative environment than at schools. People share and care. Do you?

      • bbfloyd 4.1.2

        Bob..i get the feeling that your either making this up, or your kids go to school in a better part of town.
        i went to primary schools in dargaville, otara, and finally remuera. i can unequivocally state that the teaching environment is markedly different in each case. the makeup of the student bodies in each of those locations meant the challenges for each school were unique to that school.

        so you would ague then that a teacher working out in the back blocks of otara with a class of kids who come from homes where english is still a second language, or at best, is spoken in the local patios, should be able to generate the same results as the teacher working at victoria ave primary?

        • Lanthanide 4.1.2.1

          How about results of teachers being weighted based on the school they’re at? Using decile is the obvious approach here, but probably not the best.

          So someone who works in Victora Ave has to make all their kids get A+ to earn tier 1 salary, while someone in Remura has to make all their kids get B to earn tier 1 salary. Seems fairly obvious, doesn’t it? Of course such a system is probably going to be highly unworkable in practice, but the theory seems sound.

          Also, Bob’s proposal does make sense, if you say the existing pay rate is the ‘average’, and high performing teachers will be paid more, as long as you also specify that paying these teachers additional money really is additional money – eg their high performance does not take money out of another teacher’s pocket. Essentially this equates to performance-based pay rises, as long as the total $$ is not capped in any way. Again this will probably never happen in practice, because the government is struggling paying the amount of $ for education that it does already, and such a plan as this would only increase the cost further – it would also deliver better results, though.

          • Lats 4.1.2.1.1

            I’m not convinced that a performance-based pay scale is the way to go in the school environment, there are so many variables that can effect each students performance, and a good number of these are outside a teacher’s control. However, IF such a scheme were to be trialled I would suggest that the appropriate measure of performance should be on each student’s increase in grade. If Teacher X’s students were achieving an average C+ grade at the end of term one, and this had risen to an average B grade at the end of the year, then the teacher has performed well and warrants a bonus. If on the other hand student performance declined during the calendar year then no bonus should be applicable, and it might be appropriate for the school to assess and offer support to the staff member concerned.

            Personally I think even this is a bad idea, but I think it makes more sense than enforcing an arbitrary grade target on a teacher. It also takes decile grading out of the equation, as all that is important is a nett gain in student performance.

            Ideas? Comments?

          • bbfloyd 4.1.2.1.2

            small point Lanth… Victoria ave is in the heart of remuera. and you will find that most of the teachers who work in those schools are there because the student body,as a rule,and the school, is given all the help and support that the considerable amount of wealth residing in that area can provide.
            that, on it’s own generates competition for places there among teachers. as a consequence, i found a far greater proportion of the sort of teachers we all wish our children could be influenced by.

            an important factor, overlooked i feel, by many commentators is the amount of time any teacher has to actually spend teaching academic skills to children as a proportion of the total time spent in the classroom.

            the teacher at the school in remuera would be spending, from my experience there, less than 5% of their time on admin/disciplinary issues while in the classroom.

            compare that to my experience at school in otara, where close to 30% of teachers time was taken up with admin/discipline, and on top there was the need to teach social skills that were not being addressed at home. that would have accounted for another 10% of any normal school day.

            my question is this.. how do you quantify “good teachers”, when, taken as a whole, there are communities within NZ that operate under widely differing paradigms.

            when i think back with the experience of an adult, i realize that all the teachers i had in schools in otara were exhibiting classic stress reaction symptoms. i have no doubt that a good proportion of those teachers could have been successful if relocated to victoria ave school.

            in any debate of this kind, it would pay to keep in mind that the vast majority of the teaching profession aren’t motivated by the money. job satisfaction simply can’t underestimated as a major motivating factor in wanting to teach in the first place. to reduce everything down to nothing more than another race for the money does no more than divert attention away from the task at hand. teaching our children the academic skills they will need to make their way as adults.

            the reality is that any school can be an inspiring place of learning if the community around it plays it’s part and supports it. teachers should not be given the responsibility to teach our children moral and social values. that is our responsibility as parents. so i would contend that the focus on improving education standards across the board would, of necessity focus on communitys rather than the schools within them.

        • Bob Stanforth 4.1.2.2

          The ranking of the school has nothing to do with the quality of the teacher, nothing whatsoever. Ive been to schools that are D1, and the kids are getting the best education possible from some truly dedicated and amazing teachers – so thats just another blind really.

          Every school has its challenging pupils. And no, Im not arguing that the results should be the same, not at all – Im arguing that a teacher should be tasked – responsible AND accountable – for lifting a students capability in a measurable way, and if they do that, should be compensated accordingly.

          Whats so wrong with compensating / rewarding successful outcomes?

          • KJT 4.1.2.2.1

            Already spoken on this, but performance pay is problematic even in the private sector.

            http://kjt-kt.blogspot.com/2010/08/performance-pay-for-teachers.html

            • Bob Stanforth 4.1.2.2.1.1

              It is, you are dead right – but then if we ignore solutions that work because getting there is too hard, when will we actually achieve anything? Doesn’t it make sense to continually strive to make things better?

              • KJT

                Most teachers do.

                I do not think you can find a valid performance measurement that works.

                • Bob Stanforth

                  What about testing of pupils, year on year – its done already, and its an easy measure. Well, thats what teachers tell me 🙂

                  • KJT

                    Which test. We can all teach to the test and rote learn pupils to pass.
                    That is encouraging poor teaching.

                  • AdrenaFlin

                    but not every pupil thrives under the same conditions. for example a student who is in year 12 may get excellence level internals but when it comes to externals they are thrown off by the pressure. and vice versa many students find that they muck around during internals due to the lack of pressure but when it comes to externals they do their best because of the pressure.

                  • Puddleglum

                    Bob, have a read of the book ‘Outliers’ – especially the chapter (I forget which) that reported the results of an interesting study in the US.

                    Basically, in the US regular testing using SATS (I think it is) is done each year. A researcher got the clever idea to test pupils in schools from right across the SES bands just before and then just after the summer break (which is quite long – months, apparently). There was an interesting finding which raises real questions about your suggestion of performance based pay.

                    During each year the increase in SATS scores was pretty much the same irrespective of the school (i.e., the teachers, curriculum and schools all did pretty much the same ‘added value’ – to use a completely inappropriate phrase). But, by the end of the study (several year grades on) there was a marked gap between the SATS scores, massively favouring the pupils in the higher SES schools.

                    Can you guess what happened? Yes, the gap opened up almost completely outside the teaching year. Every year the gap widened, but not because one lot of pupils had better teachers. What they had were more middle to upper middle class parents who were constantly ‘concerned’ about their children ascending the competitive ladder of achievement. Over the summer break they sent them to camps, took them to extra courses, gave them extra tutoring, etc..

                    There’s two points I’d make about this:

                    1. Any performance based scheme would have to test pupils at the start and end of any school year/term to be ‘fair’. That wouldn’t be entirely ‘fair’, of course, because extra-curricular education (‘hothousing’ if you like) happens during term time too. How on earth would non-school, educational inputs be put into the calculation? Further, doing this amount of testing just to see which teachers should be paid more could be seen as exploiting and interfering with the educational progress of students simply to impose an ideological ‘answer’ to the question of teachers’ pay.

                    2. Frankly, this rush to assessment for all and every purpose is so narrowly conceived that it just about makes me vomit. School pupils are, first and foremost, developing human beings whose well-being is far more extensive than performance on tests – and we expect teachers to be concerned about the whole child (at least, most parents do). So …

                    How about including the administration of the standardised anxiety and depression scales and, if they go up during a year, the teachers’ pay gets docked? How about taking cortisol levels from saliva to see how stressed the pupils get while being taught at certain schools and, if they are high, docking the teachers’ pay? Given some people’s concerns about ‘value-based education’, how about testing pupils to see how their values have changed and, if they become more competitive, consumerist and materialist then docking teachers’ pay? (That could eliminate economics from the curriculum, or maybe not or maybe those who choose economics courses – especially business courses – are just ‘naturally’ more selfish – see Frey and Meier (2003) Economic Inquiry, 41(3): 448-462 – or maybe it’s a bit of nature and nurture – sorry, couldn’t help myself!)

                    I’m sure you can think of plenty more things that we could measure and then alter teachers’ pay accordingly??

          • bbfloyd 4.1.2.2.2

            Bob….”what’s wrong with compensating/rewarding successful outcomes”..nothing… as long as money is all you’re interested in.

        • Fisiani 4.1.2.3

          The Left believes as dogma that ALL teachers are hard working infallible saints of equal ability and talent working hard for their students (unless of course the bastards choose to teach in private schools)
          The Centre and right knows that SOME teachers are lazy sinners of unequal ability and talent who dont care about their students.

          The sooner we go back to teacher grading the better

          Bring on 90 day trials for teachers

          • Armchair Critic 4.1.2.3.1

            The Left believes as dogma that ALL teachers are hard working infallible saints of equal ability and talent working hard for their students
            Got a link to support that? Go on, surprise me.
            Capcha – “whenever”. Fisiani provides evidence to back up assertions whenever it is available, which is why Fisiani never provides evidence to back up assertions.

          • bbfloyd 4.1.2.3.2

            fisiani… i’m assuming that you are just attempting to stir up disgust for your own amusement… because if you aren’t, then you have some serious emotional/mental imbalances to work through.
            while i have every sympathy for the thus afflicted, this forum is not the appropriate place to work them through.

      • Fabregas4 4.1.3

        I’d agree with this provided it happens in every other workplace. Ever tried phoning telecom? Pay them less! Ever wanted to ring the Council? Pay them less! Ever tried calling a bank? Pay them less! Ever ….

        Do you get my point?

      • Vicky32 4.1.4

        Bob Stanforth, how would you measure performance? Inb business, it’s simple… Does Bob sell $100,000 worth of widgets or only $10,000 worth?
        But if a teacher (call her Daphne) happens to have a class of 30 students and of those 40, 15 are from disadvantaged homes, a further 7 are there to eat their lunch and 1 has special needs, how can you compare her with her colleague Barbara who has a class containing 30 brilliant middle class kids? – Daphne’s class might have only 7 NCEA passes, whilst Barbara has 29 out of 30…
        So, again I ask, how would you judge performance?
        Deb

        • bbfloyd 4.1.4.1

          vicky…you can’t effectively, but you can judge the quality of support from local communities. and identify issues or weaknesses in community support networks. i don’t imagine it would be that difficult to identify issues unique to particular areas well enough for government to be able to put resources into helping the communities become more intimately involved with the education process. it happens as a matter of course with the more successful schools.

        • RedLogix 4.1.4.2

          Does Bob sell $100,000 worth of widgets or only $10,000 worth?

          Not always so simple; maybe Bob outsold all the other sales guys, but maybe he sold it at a big discount, he burned off a bunch of loyal customers with misleading claims, and he caused so much chaos with the logistics and accounts folk… that his big-noting sales finished up a loss on the bottom line.

          And often enough this isn’t so obvious until quite some time after the event. Most so called ‘performance measurement’ systems are pretty flawed, especially when applied to skilled knowledge workers engaged in complex, multitasking roles.

          Sort of like teachers now I come to think of it.

          • KJT 4.1.4.2.1

            There is lots of studies in management literature about how performance measurements distort employee performance to meet the system of measurement. It is usually to the eventual detriment of the business.

          • Draco T Bastard 4.1.4.2.2

            Oh god, where my brother works is like that. The sales people are making sales but at less than the cost of supplying the service.

      • Sam 4.1.5

        Great idea!

        Except firstly come up with some way to measure everything a teacher does on some form of arbitrary accountancy system that can be tied to pay. I mean everything. If you need help go to you local school and ask any teacher to tell you what they do.

        Then once you’ve arrived in magic land and you have such a system, prove that teachers and their actions have any form of correlation on the outcomes of the schools.

        Or you could just stop being blinded by ideology and loading the system up with yet more unnecessary bureaucracy.

        Sigh. Gotta’ love the massive contradictions and inconsistencies of neoliberals. If only they would go back to the basement of universities like in the 50s and 60s.

      • pnobbey 4.1.6

        Clearly you have never sat through a foundation English class. What teacher would ever opt to take the “weaker” classes and work at the more challenging schools, despite their love for teaching the more challenged students. Improvement in student performance is not something that can always be seen in a test result, as so many teachers know. At the end of the day teachers are human…..pay related performance…get real!! This IS NOT the private sector, we deal holistically with teenage humans!

    • D14 4.2

      Here is a challenge for you. Find a minister of education that agreed that a strike was good.

      • smhead 4.2.1

        Or maybe find a minister of education who hasn’t had the PPTA threaten strike action if the government doesn’t give in to their demands.

        • KJT 4.2.1.1

          Find a Government that does not attempt to impose short term un-researched, ill advised ideological fixes on the education sector.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.3

      Published: 10:45AM Wednesday March 13, 2002

      I’ll assume the incorrect date you mentioned was a typo.

      That said, I’m pretty sure I said at the time that they needed to be paid more and I’m saying the same thing now.

      “It’s not just a problem about what teachers have got in their back pocket. There are a whole range of claims in our package, and none of them have been addressed – none of them have been thought about, none of them have been responded to properly,” she told Radio New Zealand

      And it’s also not just about pay and NACT, through Tolley, isn’t addressing any of the teachers concerns.

  5. Bill 5

    I kind of like the potential for poetic justice in this government being taught a lesson by teachers.

  6. Pascal's bookie 6

    @Bob

    This was in the dompost ‘letters to the ed’ today, (not online as far as I can tell).

    The issue raised in your editorial (Aug 24) about devising a pay system to recognise the abilities of individual teachers would be better directed to the Government or the Education Ministry.

    The NZ Educational Institute, as the union representing primary teachers, knows that quality teachers have the biggest positive impact on student learning. That is why it has worked closely with the ministry to develop a skillsbased pay model, which objectively recognises effective teaching.

    That model was successfully piloted by a group of teachers and schools in Hawke’s Bay and independent evaluators found it to be a rigorous and robust process of assessing teacher skill and effectiveness.

    The sticking point is that the ministry refuses to honour its commitment and roll out what could be a road map for the whole sector.

    So instead of questioning the commitment of teachers’ unions to upskilling the teaching workforce and recognising expertise, perhaps you should look to the Education Ministry or the Government for the answers.

    FRANCES NELSON
    President. NZEI

    • insider 6.1

      Skills and performance are two different things. Reading this it seems that NZEI want to be paid for attending courses and ongoing professional development, not whether those have an actual outcome in the classroom.

      I’d rather have a really effective teacher first and foremost than one that was paid the same becuase they had all the boxes ticked but was ineffective.

      Anyone who has bene in a structured performance system knows none is ‘perfect’. I’m sure there are models that can be applied to teaching. The unwillingness to be constructive on this issue makes teachers seem less professional by being less committed to standards in their actions than their words.

      • Pascal's bookie 6.1.1

        Reading this it seems that NZEI want to be paid for attending courses and ongoing professional development…

        Read it again then. I’ll bold the bits that directly contradict your interpretation. Italics will be my words.

        The issue raised in your editorial (Aug 24) about devising a pay system to recognise the abilities of individual teachers would be better directed to the Government or the Education Ministry. [ ‘Abilities’ are not credentials or certificates]

        The NZ Educational Institute, as the union representing primary teachers, knows that quality teachers have the biggest positive impact on student learning. That is why it has worked closely with the ministry to develop a skillsbased pay model, which objectively recognises effective teaching. [ ‘qualities’ and ‘skills’ are, again, not the same thing as certificates. The explicit aim talked about is recognising ‘effective teaching’ ]

        That model was successfully piloted by a group of teachers and schools in Hawke’s Bay and independent evaluators found it to be a rigorous and robust process of assessing teacher skill and effectiveness. [Speaks for itself, but again, skills and effectiveness, not credentials and certificates. ]

        The sticking point is that the ministry refuses to honour its commitment and roll out what could be a road map for the whole sector.

        So instead of questioning the commitment of teachers’ unions to upskilling the teaching workforce and recognising expertise, perhaps you should look to the Education Ministry or the Government for the answers.

        You were saying: “The unwillingness to be constructive on this issue makes teachers seem less professional by being less committed to standards in their actions than their words.

        Which is the point being addressed in the final para. What evidence is their that the teachers are, in fact, unwilling to be constructive. I remember for example a billborad from the iwi/kiwi series that said National was for parents, labour was for teachers. Does that sound constructive to you? The National party, and many on the right more generally, need to get over the fact that teachers are unionised and start engaging.

        • insider 6.1.1.1

          Pascal

          That would be the The Practice Based Attestation (PBA) process which NZEI itself says
          is ‘for primary teachers who do not hold degrees.It will be a one-off process for teachers to have their practice attested against a set of Knowledge Skills and Attributes (KSAs) to demonstrate effective teaching practice in order to access higher salary steps.”

          So it’s a specialised sort of bridging programme to help people achieve preset salary bands, not an ongoing performance management tool, so it really isn’t much of a model.

          I think the unwillingness is exemplified by the NZEI in their response to the Vision for the Teaching Profession where they say “Measuring teacher performance rather than expertise (knowledge, skills and attributes) is not supported.”

          To me that says they are focused on technical capability not actual performance measurement.

          Another sign of unwillingness is that the unions imply that teaching is unique in that it is a collaborative profession and that means you can’t have individual performance measures like other workplaces.

          “Effective teaching requires collective and collegial approaches, not perceived individual ‘excellence’.” from NZEI again.

          “If there is to be the flexibility to use remuneration to reward perceived excellence, this shifts the principal’s role, and may remove the current sense of collegiality, with the potential for negative impact especially in small primary schools.”

          Well every one of my workplaces were collegial, were team based, often were small, but still were able to have performance measurement. I’m not convinced that teaching is that much different to exclude some form of performance measurement.

          • Puddleglum 6.1.1.1.1

            Insider, there have been at least two ways adopted to achieve improvements in how people do things as part of an organisation, informal group or any type of collective.

            One way is to assume that each individual needs to be managed via a power structure (this is where ‘performance monitoring’ so aptly implies the kind of coercive social structure it depends upon and assumes). This approach assumes that people are not people but are just mechanisms to achieve some end determined by someone else.

            A second way is to assume that a group can ‘monitor’ itself, can develop and understand its own goals, can detect who is or isn’t pulling their weight – not through ‘lines of management’ that respond to ‘performance measures’ but through open discussion and debate into which those individuals who are claimed not to be pulling their weight can explain, argue for or defend their behaviour.

            It might seem messy to someone convinced of the over-riding importance of output oriented efficiency and effectiveness measures and who sees everything as a transaction or exchange (e.g., labour towards the payer’s goals in return for wages/salaries), but it has the distinct advantage of not being coercive, being cooperative and, hence, maintaining and sustaining collective effort.

            You criticise teachers and the NZEI for claiming that collegial, team-based environments preclude performance measures, through your assertion that places you have worked in, despite having those attributes, “still were able to have performance measurement”. You are assuming that, therefore, these measures are in keeping with collegiality, etc.. There’s another possibility – that what collegiality there was in those workplaces was achieved despite – rather than in keeping with – the use of performance based measures to ‘reward’ individuals on narrow KPIs.

            The literature on ‘performance’ (also called ‘learning’, which many teachers know something about in a very practical sense) is that, while fast and accurate feedback on one’s skill development does improve performance it is undermined if it operates in a competitive, coercive, hierarchical setting. When the sole purpose of ‘monitoring performance’ is to determine external rewards it distorts learning. (That’s why so many educationalists have real misgivings about the whole process of assessment in education settings. That is, they have evidence-based misgivings.)

            This undermining no doubt happens in spades in many private sector settings but that doesn’t mean it’s something to emulate. That’s not surprising, of course, because the private sector is not designed to forefront the needs of people – and their learning. It’s designed to generate the greatest return from available ‘resources’.

            Have you ever thought that perhaps what teachers are claiming about the best way to regulate performance is not so much an argument for exceptionalism but, rather, is an example of how it could (should) be done in many settings, if not everywhere?

            Perhaps in all workplaces the aim should not be simply to get people to perform on a task that has been pre-determined but, instead, to have people take control of, and take responsibility for, their tasks and their lives? Perhaps the aim should be to have people completely self-manage, amongst themselves? Or is that too revolutionary?

  7. Bored 7

    Time for a curve ball: teachers by and large are well paid and have good working conditions. Whether their pay requests are justifiable I cannot comment on, and in principle I will always support the Union first.

    As a consequence I would like to ask the Teachers Union some solidarity based questions:

    1. Why are school support staff paid so badly by comparison?
    2. What have the teachers done to actively support their support staffs pay requests?
    3. When did the teachers last take active solidarity based support of other unions or sectors?

    • Bronwyn 7.1

      Od course PPTA supports the campaign for better wages for support staff. if you look at p 12 of this issue of the PPTA News you’ll see exactly that.
      http://www.ppta.org.nz/index.php/resources/pptanews/ppta-news-pdf/doc_download/799-ppta-news-february-2010-volume-31-no1
      Also because we have very high membership and are relatively wealthy we contribute to all CTU campaigns either in support of other unions or wider public information campaigns. (Just ask the CTU if you don’t believe me). I think these questions reflect a particularly shabby divide-and-rule tactic. For better or worse, PPTA has inherited the role that the wharfies used to play, then the PSA, of pushing up pay the rates so there is another step on the ladder for those coming after.
      And for all those dopey wallies who think that the only thing that influences achievement is the teacher (not the fact that the parents have just got divorced, or are neglectful, or the child has an addiction for which there is no help availble locally and so on ) tell me whose child is to be taught by the resentful teacher who is still the classroom but has the lowest pay? Let’s do the same thing for airline pilots and surgeons – we’ll pay the good ones lots and the less satisfactory will have their pay cut but they can carry on with their work. Pure genius eh?

      • Bored 7.1.1

        It is instructive to read your response Bronwyn, so I have copied it to here. Papanui High School PPTA branch members joined their support staff colleagues to celebrate the settlement of their wage claim. The branch thanked their support staff for the hard
        work they put in at the school, and branch members in turn were praised for the support Supporting support staff they provided to their colleagues during what were difficult negotiations.

        Months of negotiations and action to highlight their low pay issues resulted in a settlement
        where support staff at the bottom of the scale will move from $12.94 to $14.62, while
        those earning more than $14.62 will receive a 1.4% increase. The agreement runs for 15 months and will expire on 31 March 2011. School support staff include teacher aides, librarians, office managers, ICT specialists and therapists.

        I think that the teachers got offered the same pathetic percentage or similar, which is where the similarity ends when you look at the rates of pay. I asked the questions not because I wanted to “divide and rule” but because (as a believer in unions) when one looks at the comparative rates of pay they seem to indicate that the “divide and rule” factor has worked for the teachers. Support staff are the second class citizens of the education world. If there was a case for a strike the PPTA might have justifiably done so in solidarity with the support staff. Has that happened? I think not.

        My partner keeps me well informed on this, she recently against my advice withdrew from the union (and her role as site rep) because in her experience the PPTA had offered their union so little real support and the teachers themselves shown so little interest in support staff conditions and wages. They in turn now want solidarity shown, sad really.

    • KJT 7.2

      As it is now illegal to strike to support other workers or unions there is not a lot teachers can do.

  8. The photo of Tolley in this weeks Sunday Times looks as if she is mad or about to have a breakdown. ! But have a look at Key in the background.If ever a photo indicated what type of person he is this it. Sly ,slIck and ruthless. Have a good look!!.

  9. tc 9

    Gotta love that atitude of I know best even though I’ve been in the job 5min’s, have had pieces of it taken from me already by the head prefect and given to his chief bully, and I left school early anyway…..the woman’s clearly overqualified.

  10. jbanks 10

    I have no problem with a 4 percent pay rise. Provided the quality of the teaching was measured of course.

    • KJT 10.1

      4% is a cut. CPI is expected to rise over 6% this year. Interest rates and other things conveniently excluded from the CPI are expected to rise by even more.

      If teachers rises have been greater than elsewhere it shows how much all our pay is being robbed and why we need more Union power.

    • The Voice of Reason 11.1

      Pot, meet kettle! Still, at least he’s keeping it real, as this other headline amply demonstrates:

      http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/4075971/Prime-Minister-John-Key-to-meet-Queen

      • bobo 11.1.1

        Hopefully Prince Phillip doesn’t crack any Jew jokes while Key plays Croquet on the royal front lawn but yeah the arrogance is starting to show with the comment from Key to the teachers to live in the real world..

        • bbfloyd 11.1.1.1

          what do you mean “starting to show”? he’s been an arrogant prick the whole time i’ve known of him.

      • Herodotus 11.1.2

        Freedom and TVOR I do not know what your problem with Mr Keys statements are. Unlike the last few governments at least we know how to change this govts decisions / mind sets. Just get a few thousand to march in a couple of main centres (as this is regarding Education I am sure John Minto would give his experience to this) and we have the reassessment and change in govt stance. It is better to have a govt that we know how to manipulate (sometimes) than have a govt that knows only how to manipulate us, without “we” having any ability to protest. All JK needs to know is that he may be in part “disconnected from the real world,”(his words not mine), yet is that not a pre requisite to be one of the 122 priviledged few.
        As an aside I notice in Pak n Save butter now $4.19/500 grams, milk $2/l (almost the price of bottled water) and SCF failure with loans to Dairy. How can you fail with record commodity prices of Dairy milkfat????

  11. Mac1 12

    In the same article as referenced by ‘freedom,’ the following sentence finished the piece.

    “The Ministry of Education says that in the 10 years to March this year, average teacher pay had increased by $24,243, or almost 50%.”

    I’m no maths teacher, but doesn’t 4% for 10 years come out at about an increase of 50%?

    I might be disconnected from reality, according to Key in the same article, but 1.5% followed next year by 1% increase is nowhere near the rate of inflation.

  12. millsy 13

    Of course, with the government being wildly popular, and the teachers ranking alongside cockroaches and Catholic priests in public opinion (ie talkbackland), we could see the strike being a specactular failure and used as an excuse to bring in privatisation, and a breaking of the union, and the resultant slashing of wages and conditions across the board. The dismantling of the public school system becoming a realistic possibility.

    You guys are like the cream of Britain’s youth. Going over the top back in 1914.

    • Armchair Critic 13.1

      …with the government being wildly popular…
      Outside talkbackland the honeymoon is well and truly over. But that’s an entirely different topic.
      Go the teachers!

    • r0b 13.2

      Ahh – Millsy – you need to get out of the talkback echo-chamber. Click on the last link in the original post.

      • Bored 13.2.1

        Rob, Millsy has a point. My fear here is that the NACT a-holes will use this as an excuse to beat unions and wage demands per se. And to drive the wedge between higher paid unions and the rest. I mentioned it above with regard to solidarity, lower paid workers will look at the teachers position and say wheres mine, will these priveleged buggers support us? I heard it from the coalface, from the lower paid support staff, and as Millsy says they dont have teachers high on their loved personality lists.

        • millsy 13.2.1.1

          And there is a precedent.

          In 1985, after Margaret Thatcher had broken the NUM, she was able to consolidate and extend her privatisation agenda.

          The big ticket assets (the power/water, British Gas, the remaining shares in BT, British Rail,etc) didnt get sold off until after that.

  13. Carol 14

    I’m not totally clear on the parrallel you’re making with Britain under Thatcherism, millsy. I was a teacher at the time of the miner’s strike in th UK. There was ongoing simultaneous rolling strikes by the NUT (National Union of Teachers). Where I was teaching, there was mutual support between the teachers & miners unions. We had miners come and talk to our staff in the school where I was working. And after that the was an on-going collection in the school staff-room, of stuff to provide for the striking miners. There was a lot of mutual support betwen all the unions, because most unionists realised we were all under attack.

    Thatcher did break all the unions eventually. She broke the teachers by bringing in a law that ruled the strike action illegal… basically resorting to her greater power, and cheating really. And she also manipulated the press indirectly, so that large national teachers demos that stopped the centre of London, got no coverage in the MSM.

    Totally evil…. I’m still angry about it all.

  14. Phil 15

    The discussion on performance based pay is interesting, but it is far removed from the original article. The politicians are seeking publicity, portraying the teachers as money grubbing and greedy.

    They know, but don’t seem to want the public to know, that this is not the only, or even the main issue. As a teacher I could probably live with the small pay increase they’ve offered if I knew that everyone else, INCLUDING THE POLITICIANS, was getting no more.

    But the REAL issue here, which partents need to be concerned about, is that the MOE wants to remove limits on class sizes, and refuses to budge on this. Whether your child has “learning difficulties” or whether he/she is “gifted”, or somewhere in the middle, this issue is the same.
    Would you prefer your child to be in a class with no more than 26 students, where the teacher can give time to him/her individually and meet his/her needs? Or would you prefer your child to be in a class with 40 or more students of all kinds of ability. Even the best teacher can’t give individual attention to that many students.

    ….and don’t say I’m exaggerating. There are few principals who mould make classes that big, but the point is that New Zealand needs to draw a line in the sand and recognise that quality edulation requires small classes. It’s not rocket science.

    THIS is what’s on the table – no just money grubbing.

  15. Dorothea 16

    Interesting to see the kind of comments coming from some people. I dare you to go and teach for a term — no a week, or even a day. You may sing a different tune then.

  16. tash 17

    Education Minister Anne Tolley seems to be failing all round. The teachers have fair demands but she is showing no signs of meeting them, this close to exams its critical for students to have good teaching, more strikes could be deverstating for their results. Beside she has already screwed the students up for next years end exams by adgreeing to have the rugby world cup coincide with the school holidays meaning NCEA students have two weeks of term before exams. At least give them a chance this year, meet the teahers demands or at least closer to it.

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