• Wyatt Creech

The Education Minister is calling on the PPTA to think carefully and act responsibly over its pay negotiations with the State Services Commission.

I urge them to work constructively to solve the dispute Wyatt Creech said today.

The PPTA executive meets this weekend to discuss recommendations to take to teachers next week.

The dispute has been dragging on far too long. Many teachers I have spoken to accept the basic thrust of the Government offer and would like to conclude a settlement.

It is time for cool heads to prevail. Teachers have been waiting eight months for a settlement. I would hope that over the coming week teachers will give the union negotiators the clear message to return to talks with their minds focused on settling.

We need to start paying teachers more as soon as possible to help address our recruitment and retention needs. They are overdue for a substantial pay rise. We have made a deliberate decision to increase the real pay rates of teachers because we recognise they need to be paid more to build their relativity with other professions in the community. There is $73 million available to settle the dispute - and further negotiations can take place at the margins said Mr Creech.

The Government has met the PPTA more than half way. The union started demanding a 21 percent pay rise - when the SSC was offering 3 percent. The Governments offer gives teachers an average $5,000, 12 percent pay rise and includes a top of the basic teaching scale salary of $47,000, provided a teacher does their job effectively.

Mr Creech also noted that he found it ironic that just 36 Wellington school
students who protested in favour of the teachers last night received mass media attention, despite the fact they had claimed 3 thousand students would turn up.

It was a hyped-up publicity stunt. They demanded to deliver a statement to me. When my staff member went down to collect it they admitted they had no statement.

Wyatt Creech compared the protest to one involving 85 Wanganui High School students who participated in strike action in protest against the PPTAs
strikes. Those students received little media attention, and 48 of them were punished by their school for their actions.

I want this dispute ended now. We need to move forward and start to deal constructively with other issues such as teacher supply and workload.