• Wyatt Creech

"I am extremely concerned at the pre-emptive industrial action planned by the secondary teachers union, the PPTA. The union seems to be pushing for strike action before anyone has even discussed a formal offer," Education Minister Wyatt Creech said today.

"I am perplexed and disappointed at the union's approach of going to teachers and getting them to vote for strike action before formal talks even started. This is quite unusual."

Formal negotiations between the Ministry of Education and the PPTA only started in the last week. The PPTA has spent the past fortnight holding meetings to get teachers to vote for strike action next year.

"The Government wants to negotiate in good faith. We are seeking a constructive resolution to the pay round, and do not want a negative tone set for the pay talks process," Mr Creech said.

"I believe the last thing the public and parents want is more industrial action in our schools, and more disruption and time out of the classroom for our young people.

"It is only just over a year ago that we settled the secondary teachers' employment contract. That agreement saw secondary teacher pay rates rising by an average of 12.5%. Base beginning pay rates increased from $25,829 to $29,000 and for classroom teachers at the top of the basic scale base pay rates went from $41,860 to $47,100.

"I would have to take issue with the union's claim that they had to realistically plan for the worst over their employment contracts. The Government has made a commitment to ensuring we have a quality teaching workforce and pay rates that recruit and retain good teachers.

"I do not want to see disruption for students. Pushing for strike action before any offer has been tabled does not seem to me to be looking for a constructive way through this pay round," Mr Creech said.