31 May 2019

Minister intervenes in teachers' pay dispute, calls forum

10:03 pm on 31 May 2019

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has called for a forum with the teacher unions, the NZEI and PPTA, to resolve what he calls an impasse over pay and conditions.

Chris Hipkins, Minister of Education.

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Secondary school teachers will start five weeks of industrial action on Tuesday when they refuse to teach students in year nine. The action comes hard on the heels of this week's joint strike with primary teachers.

In a release tonight, Mr Hipkins said the government was committed to progressively taking action to address the concerns of teachers and principals.

The talks were set down for 6 June.

"The issues being raised by teachers are many, varied and complex," he said in tonight's statement.

"We will make no further comment until after the parties have met."

The primary teachers' union has yet to announce its next move, but it has already held three strikes and further action is considered likely.

Mr Hipkins' announcement came at the end of a Budget week that offered little to teachers, who have complained about swelling class sizes and a lack of new teaching staff.

The Budget did provide a 1.8 percent increase to operations funding as well as a payment of $150 per student if the school chose not to request donations - though that would be more beneficial to parents.

Also included was $1.2bn for school property, which would help with adding about 150 extra classrooms and school expansions, plus the building of three new schools.

However, that seemed unlikely to appease teachers' concerns over class sizes, workloads and enough pay to attract more to the profession.

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