The Government needs to listen and be more balanced and respectful in the way that it handles the collective bargaining with teachers, National’s spokesperson for Education Nikki Kaye says.
“The strikes, which start tomorrow, are the second round of strikes. This follows on from the strike in mid-August which was the first primary teacher strikes in 24 years. Teachers and parents need this resolved to prevent further disruption for students.
“The Government’s process for the collective bargaining for primary and secondary teachers has been long and at times disrespectful of teachers. Yesterday NZEI claimed that ministers have made misleading statements regarding the offer.
“Costing information was withheld by the Government about the offer from both NZEI and the PPTA over several months. We are now six months in, and quite rightly many teachers are questioning why it has taken so long to get to the current offer. It is too early to tell whether the current offer will lead to a settlement.
“The facilitation concluded and the strike meetings over the next week will consider the offer. The timeline for any decision for members may mean that the formal vote is not held for a number of weeks.
“It is now clear that the late offer by the Government on Thursday made it very difficult to avoid the strikes. The Government offered half a day’s pay to avoid the strike but the unions requested a full day to recognise most parents would have taken leave for the full day. The Government did not move on this which has meant we will now have some parents, particularly in Auckland, scrambling to take leave or getting adequate supervision arrangements for their children.
“NZEI has confirmed the offer leaves percentage increases of three per cent a year over three years unchanged on the base salary. There are changes to the top pay step and qualifications. However, they will not happen until 2020 which has left some teachers unhappy.
“Under National salaries increased by less but we were dealing with the GFC and Canterbury earthquakes. We know that the Government has spent billions on tertiary students and on commitments to NZ First which has constrained the amount that can be offered for teachers.
“Other groups in the public sector like the New Zealand Police have been offered more.
“The learning facilitator support for 600 teachers to help children with complex needs reflects Labour’s manifesto commitment to provide staff in every school. I have previously acknowledged the Government’s announcement on this as schools need more support for these children. However, the first tranche will not start until 2020 and there is still uncertainty about the timeline of the second tranche of providing these roles.
“The other area the Government should consider improving its offer to teachers is a commitment to reduce class sizes in primary schools. Earlier this year National made a strong commitment to reducing class sizes in primary schools. Labour talked about reducing class sizes for years in Opposition and some Labour MPs distributed election material committing to reductions but since coming into Government, Education Minister Chris Hipkins has refused to commit to reduce them. The claim has also argued for additional release time to assist with teacher workload.
“The pay and conditions in this collective bargaining will be a major lever to resolve teacher shortages. This means the stakes are high with this three year agreement. If the Government is unable to find the right salary and workload package it will also make it even harder to staff schools in the future.
“If it appears settlement is unlikely and the Government refuses to shift on salary increases then the Minister needs to consider providing greater certainty on the detail of learning facilitator roles, commit to reducing class sizes or increase release time. Parents and students need the Government not to walk away and criticise teachers but continue to keep working prevent further strikes.
Today’s confirmation the Government will build on National’s record investment in learning support is good news for schools, however, with a critical teacher shortage and pay negotiations ongoing, it may be hard to achieve, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“There will be many students and families who will be hugely supportive because they understand how life-changing it can be to get personalised and timely support for children with complex needs.
“It is a bit unusual that the announcement has been made without Cabinet approval despite Labour committing to providing a role in each school in their election manifesto. This may be about the Government rushing to prevent a second round of teacher strikes in the next ten days.
“This investment will help ensure students with additional learning needs get more support. It builds on funding for learning support under National which reached around $658 million a year by the time we left office – a 30 per cent increase since 2008.
“But with demand for teachers so high the plan relies on the Government getting its teacher recruitment and retention strategy right to fill shortages now and in the future and to avoid the planned teacher strikes.
“The Government must conclude pay negotiations for existing teachers and ensure the 600 staff are paid enough and other workload and retention issues are addressed to attract the right people.
“It also needs to urgently deliver the long term-workforce development strategy National started more than a year ago. Some estimates indicate we will be thousands of teachers short over the next five years. With the Ministry’s own data it is not clear how the Government will deliver these first 600 teachers.
“Questions will be raised about Labour releasing further details of the second tranche of support and confirmation that this will definitely include a facilitator in every school.
“National knew we had to do more than just pour more money in – we needed to reform the system itself to ensure greater integration between our health and education system. The Learning Support update work was tracking in the right direction.
“Previous work on roles like this have shown the importance of providing a single point of contact for a child and their family, the need for one plan and coordinators to have flexibility in judgements around what support is provided.
“Further funding for learning support roles in school is important, but its only one step, the Government needs to do more to ensure we better attract people into teaching and retain our best teachers.”
Late this evening it has been confirmed that NZEI members overwhelmingly voted to progress rolling regional strikes from Monday 12 November to Friday 16 November, National’s spokesperson for Education Nikki Kaye says.
“This is the second strike following on from the strike in mid-August. National has previously raised questions about the Government’s collective bargaining for primary and secondary teachers. Other groups in the public sector like the New Zealand Police have been offered more, and the Government created massive expectations for teachers during the election campaign that they are now failing to meet.
“It has also been confirmed this week that the Government has withheld costing information about the offer from both NZEI and the PPTA over several months.
“I understand NZEI have only recently received detailed costing information on each element of the offer. This has made it harder in my view to reach a settlement as there has been some uncertainty about the scale of what has actually been on the table.
“The Government has committed billions of dollars for tertiary students, has billions more cash in surplus so they should be able to give teachers a better offer.
“I believe there is huge public support for teachers getting more. National didn’t have the same options that Labour has but now that New Zealand has larger surpluses we have options.
“The pay and conditions in this collective bargaining will be a major lever to resolve teacher shortages. If the Government can’t improve the offer it will also be making it harder to staff schools in the future.
“I’ve raised issues in the past around the Government’s planning for the strikes. The Government must make sure it is adequately planning for the strikes to ensure that children are properly supervised. Strikes can make planning very difficult for some families who struggle to find adequate supervision for their children or get leave from work.
“It also needs to improve on the situation during the last teacher strikes, when the Ministry of Education had a lack of data about which schools were closing and which weren’t.
“As we move towards the strikes, the Government needs to improve the salary offer to teachers and ensure it includes firm commitments and a timeline around special education support. The Government also needs to also improve their support and planning ahead of the strikes to minimise disruption for students and parents.”
There are serious questions that need to be answered by Government agencies regarding the method of brake testing on Waiheke Island, Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye says.
“This is a significant issue because it cuts to the heart of people’s confidence in vehicle safety.
“Media reports today demonstrate that there is confusion and a lack of clarity around the brake testing system for Waiheke Island.
“Reports indicate that Vehicle Testing New Zealand (VTNZ) has admitted using what has been called ‘an inferior test’ since March 2017. This is despite the agency’s brake protocol which says that the decelerometer method should only be used for up to two days.
“It is also against the backdrop of VTNZ being scrutinised by law firm Meredith Connell.
“While VTNZ has said that they don’t believe there is a safety issue, it has admitted to breaking the rules by using the old test for too long.
“It is also clear that Waiheke customers were not told about this and there is a strong case for islanders being made aware.
“I am requesting an urgent briefing from NZTA and VTNZ on these issues.
“It is clear to me that not only have protocols been broken, but there needs to be greater assurance around public safety for vehicle owners on Waiheke Island. I will be asking a lot more questions of Government agencies on this issue.”
“I have requested an urgent briefing from the Ministry as a result. An independent check may be required on NZTA systems in order to prevent this risk in other communities.”
The Ministry of Education has finally released the costings of the pay offer for secondary teachers which have been held onto for months an hour after a question was lodged to be asked in Parliament today, National’s spokesperson for Education Nikki Kaye says.
“I have been asking written questions where the Education Minister has cunningly avoided providing the details of the individual costings of each element of the pay offer for secondary teachers for months. Within an hour of the question being lodged in Parliament today, the Minister provided that information to the PPTA.
“Failing to provide this information thus far has been, in my view, one the barriers to settlement because the unions have been unable to verify the costings of the offers.
“The fact that it took a question in Parliament to prompt Minister Hipkins to allow the Ministry to release this information proves he is more focused playing political games than reaching a settlement and preventing strikes which we know are deeply disruptive to students, families and parents.
“The Minister, alongside the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance, have been saying that the existing offers are more than the equivalent three offers by the previous National Government combined. This is incorrect, both by the Ministry’s own costings provided today and information in Parliament with regard to secondary teachers.
“The costings show the secondary school offer is approximately $360 million over four years. To this into perspective it is equivalent to approximately 13 per cent of the Governments package for tertiary students.
“We also know that other areas of the public service, like the New Zealand Police, have had offers much higher than teachers.
“The Minister’s comments last week, when considering the teachers offer in light of other offers, that National isn’t ‘comparing apples with apples’ need to be explained, especially given there are tens of thousands of teachers who want to know why other public sector workers are being offered much more.
“The Government needs to stop playing politics and wasting time and get back to the table immediately to provide an increased offer to prevent strikes.”
With the passing of the Education Amendment Bill today the Government has ignored continuous outcry from Māori leaders and scrapped the partnership school model, National’s spokesperson for Education Nikki Kaye says.
“Yesterday Māori educators Sir Toby Curtis and Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi applied for an urgent Waitangi Tribunal hearing over the closure of partnership schools.
“The Minister of Education Chris Hipkins chose to ignore the claim and today the Education Amendment Bill, which contains provisions that remove the partnership school model from legislation, passed its final reading.
“Partnership schools have a strong track record of lifting Māori educational achievement. The claimants believe axing the model will have a detrimental effect on the futures of young Māori because it limits opportunities for educators to help Māori students succeed.
“The Minister should have done the decent thing and delayed the provisions scrapping the model until the claimants had the opportunity to be heard. Instead he pushed ahead with the legislation without even having a conversation with these highly respected Māori leaders.
“This follows the Minister repeatedly stating that the Crown had not been formally served with the initial Treaty of Waitangi claim, before admitting an error had been made and blaming it on Crown Law.
“The passing of the bill is the final step of an uncaring process that has seen the Minister refuse to meet with many schools and stakeholders, admit he didn’t think there should be Select Committee hearings at partnership schools to provide opportunities for families to submit and fail to deliver all the transition provisions the schools were promised as they become special character schools.
“The legislation passed today also removes National Standards provisions from legislation, finalising the Government’s reckless move to scrap them without a replacement system and leave parents in the dark about their children’s achievement.
“It is a sad day for partnership school students and their families. Their voices have been ignored by the Government, and they have lost the schools that helped many of them experience success in education school for the first time in their lives.
“National remains committed to reinstating and expanding partnership schools within 12 months of returning to Government.”
The Government is not doing enough to resolve the teacher shortage according to even its own numbers while it continues to drag its heels on the longer term strategy which will make the real difference, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“The data provided by the Ministry of Education to allow teachers to be added to the essential skills list indicates school growth demand alone could be for as many as 1000 more teachers per year over the next five years. While this package may help, today’s target of 850 shows the Government is coming up short.
“What the Government must deliver is the long term workforce development strategy started by National more than a year ago to ensure we can fill our classrooms now and prevent other shortages in the future.
“This strategy must get to the core of the issue around how we can better attract people into teaching and retain our best teachers. Ideally it will bring back experienced teachers who left over workload and pay issues and won’t leave schools reliant on offering incentives to attract new graduates and people from overseas.
“The fact the strategy has not been released yet shows the Government is struggling.
“National took a number of steps to help try and address the shortage including boosting the number of TeachNZ Scholarships, the voluntary bonding scheme and, for the first time, investing in promoting teaching as a career to tertiary students studying STEM subjects. We provided funding for recruitment and relocation and we welcome the Government today announcing it will build on that.
“National also had work underway to extend voluntary bonding cash incentives to a much larger group of teachers in areas like Auckland but that was scaled back by Education Minister Chris Hipkins.
“Importantly, teachers are waiting for the Government to reduce workloads and increase pay. Primary teachers overwhelmingly rejected their second pay offer last week and are now pursuing strike action while secondary teachers have also rejected the Government’s first offer.
“The Government needs to do more in both the short term and long term to ensure we don’t have disruption for students and we have teachers in classrooms where they are needed.”
National Party spokesperson for Sport and Recreation Nikki Kaye says the Government’s launch of a $10 million Strategy for Women and Girls in Sport today is a positive start but there is more to do to reduce inequity.
“I welcome this strategy but more needs to be done to ensure women are more highly represented in sport not only as athletes but also in leadership and governance positions.
“There are some promising initiatives in the strategy including a contestable fund which will seek some fresh ideas for getting more girls physically active however more needs to be done to look specifically at the disparity in funding in youth sport.
“Through my discussions with some organisations it is clear there are significant inequities in sport funding. One area of concern is the disparity in community funds that impact organisations like Netball New Zealand.
“Netball New Zealand represents 140,000 primarily female registered athletes and they estimate they receive a disproportionately lower level of funding compared to other codes that have high numbers of boys participating.
“The issue of disparity in sport funding by community trusts is a tough issue to tackle. I believe that there needs to be increased transparency of this funding so that we understand the extent of the inequities.
“I am aware that some trusts are making a huge effort to better understand the disparity at the community level but there is a need for this to happen across the sector.
“I congratulate the Government on the initiatives announced today. I look forward to working with the Government and the sector to make greater progress to deliver equity in sport.”
After several years of work the Unit Titles (Strengthening Body Corporate Governance and Other Matters) Amendment Bill to strengthen the management of apartments and townhouses has today been released by National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins and Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye.
“We see a huge opportunity to strengthen the existing unit titles regime in areas such as pre-contract disclosure, record keeping of body corporates and better management of conflicts of interests and proxy votes”, Ms Collins says.
“The main reason for the change has been concerns around a lack of transparency and inadequacy in long term maintenance plans, and a clearer understanding of the role of a body corporate manager.
“Some estimates have the apartment sector alone worth more than $50 billion. Under investment in long term maintenance plans can result in large unexpected bills for homeowners if defects occur, or sharp rises in body corporate fees.
“Places like Auckland have seen a huge increase in unit titles. The number of multi-unit housing developments in Auckland increased from just over 15 per cent of new houses in 2010 to over 40 per cent in 2017.
“A refined governance, management and planning structure will ultimately lead to more quality housing through improved long term maintenance plans and boost the confidence of first time buyers.
“Nikki Kaye, alongside property and legal experts, produced a report for the last National Government and a discussion paper was subsequently released which forms the basis of this law. National had committed to ensure the legislation would be progressed if we were in Government,” Ms Collins says.
The Bill aims to:
- Improve the information disclosure regime to prospective buyers of units
- Strengthen the governance arrangements in relation to the body corporate, the entity responsible for the management and operation of a unit title complex (owner)
- Increase the professionalism and standards of body corporate managers
- Ensure planning and funding of long-term maintenance projects is adequate and proportionate to the size of the complex concerned.
“The law distinguishes between unit title complexes based on their size so smaller complexes can either be excluded or can opt-out of some compliance obligations. The legislation aims to strike a balance between the benefits of additional compliance requirements with any potential costs,” Ms Kaye says.
“Earlier this year Judith and I met with Housing Minister Phil Twyford where we confirmed we would draft a Bill, and we have now written to the Minister asking the Government to adopt the legislation. If the Government chooses not to adopt the law the Bill will be lodged as a Private Members Bill in Judith’s name.
“As a result of some of these issues, disputes have arisen without accessible and affordable resolutions – the Bill seeks to reduce dispute costs and improve the accessibility of mediation.
“We want to reduce homeowner disputes in multi-unit dwellings and help support easier resolutions.
“For most people their home is the largest asset they have so when things go wrong there can be devastating and life-long impacts.
“Through our discussions with apartment owners, property and legal organisations, including body corporate chairs, we know there is huge support for law reform in this area.
“We will work hard to ensure this law reform is progressed,” Ms Kaye says.
News that the secondary teachers have rejected the Government’s pay offer means that the instability and potential disruption in the sector for teachers, students and parents is far from over, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“After primary teachers overwhelmingly rejected their second pay offer last week and are now pursuing rolling regional strikes it comes as no surprise that the secondary teachers weren’t happy with their first Government offer either.
“I am at the PPTA conference in Wellington today to listen to secondary teachers’ concerns. It is clear to me that they have also not been prioritised by this Government and that it has instead chosen to spend $2.8 billion on an unsuccessful fees free policy for tertiary students.
“For teachers it is not just about pay. The Government has not provided a firm funding commitment for special education coordinators in schools - despite announcing a plan to provide them in each school.
“Smaller class sizes is another priority for many teachers which has not been prioritised by the Labour-led Government. Smaller ratios would help to lessen teachers’ workloads and provide more one on one time with students.
“And now, for both the primary and secondary pay offers, the ability for teachers to get the support of a maternity grant up front has been proposed to be changed, meaning that new parents would have to wait until they come back to work for any support. This is unacceptable and unfair to new mums and dads.
“I am concerned that there has been a lack of transparency around the offer. It is my understanding that despite requests from union organisations the Ministry of Education has not provided the breakdown of the costs of the offer.
“The Minister has failed to deliver multiple promises in education including ending school donations. The Government overpromised to a lot of New Zealanders and has chosen to prioritise other areas.
“This is extremely concerning for everyone involved and it only creates more uncertainty with the situation. The Government needs to front up now and prioritise funding for teachers in an attempt to avoid more strike action.”