Source: Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA)
PPTA Te Wehengarua national executive has rejected an offer from the Ministry of Education for the settlement of the collective agreement covering adult and community education workers and out of hours music and art workers.
There are around 1200 adult and community education and out of hours music and art staff working in Aotearoa New Zealand. Adult and community education workers usually teach night classes and out of hours music and art staff teach younger students, usually on Saturday mornings.
Melanie Webber, President of PPTA Te Wehengarua, said the offer was so unsatisfactory that the elected representatives turned it down without taking it to members. “Clearly we and the Ministry are still a considerable distance apart in terms of what we believe to be an acceptable offer.”
The most positive aspect of the Ministry’s recent offer was the inclusion of out of hours music and art staff in the collective agreement. “These teachers, who teach music and art to thousands of young New Zealanders who cannot afford private tuition, have never been part of a union before and have not had a pay increase for 18 years. The pay is so poor that increasing numbers of these staff are ditching the public work to become private tutors.
“We’re pleased the Ministry has agreed to include out of hours music and art staff in the collective agreement and have agreed to catch their rates up with equivalent adult and community education staff rates.
However, despite the catch up after 18 years, the pay rates being offered are not enough to survive on. For example, the Ministry is proposing to increase rates for adult and community education tutors by 1% to 1.5% a year when inflation is running at 7.3%.
“And there is no intention to increase funding to pay for all the hours actually worked by these staff, including planning and follow up time. Unless this funding is increased to cover preparation time, the number of classes would need to be reduced, which means students would miss out. We want a better deal for students and staff.”
Melanie Webber said that when these workers’ current wages were applied across the number of hours they actually worked, their hourly rate was less than minimum wage. “So PPTA will continue our legal action against the Secretary of Education under the Minimum Wage Act 2003 to ensure these workers are not having their labour exploited.”