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Education Unions

This category contains 12 posts

On breaking a strike.

A strikebreaker (sometimes derogatorily called a scab, blackleg, or knobstick) is a person who works despite an ongoing strike. Wikipedia

There’s a lot of chatter on social media about whether or not union members can *choose* not to strike, and whether they would get paid for working on the strike day if they went to work.

I haven’t got a definitive answer yet, but how very sad that any union members would be actively trying to find ways to break a strike.

How astounding that anyone would be encouraging others to do so.

And how utterly unbelievable to be hunting down possible loopholes to get paid on a strike day.

Yes, it’s term 4, yes it’s report season, and yes, there are bills to pay, but it’s no small thing to cross a picket line (literally or figuratively) and work on a strike day.

Once the settlement comes in, would strikebreakers expect the same gains as the members who actively held the strike?

I wonder?

Are we paddling this waka together?  If not, why bother joining a union?

unfair.gif
~ Dianne

Just what are primary school teachers asking for? And what has Ministry offered?

This week, NZEI teacher members rejected the Ministry of Education’s second pay and conditions offer and voted to go on strike again. But what is it they want? And what’s been offered?

What we want:

  • SENCO –  A Special Needs Coordinator (SENCO) for every school, so that children with additional needs have a dedicated expert. This job is almost always tacked onto the roles of teachers already busy with many responsibilities, and so doesn’t always get the dedicated attention it needs.
  • RELEASE TIME – Significant increases to release time so that teachers can complete assessment properly and have time to discuss and interpret the data they gather. Two days per term is just not enough to do all of this.
  • PAY – 16% increase over the course of a two year agreement.
  • PAY PARITY – A renewal of the pay parity clauses so that primary teachers aren’t worse off than high school teachers.
  • SALARY CAP – Remove the qualification-based salary cap so that teachers are no longer unfairly penalised for having trained under the earlier Diploma system and can move up the entire pay scale with experience as other teachers do.

What Ministry has offered:

  • SENCO – Nothing! 
  • RELEASE TIME – Nothing! (In the first offer, Ministry offered addition release equal to 12 minutes’ release per week, but that was withdrawn in the 2nd offer).
  • PAY – 3% per year over a three year agreement.
  • PAY PARITY – Agreed to renew the pay parity clause.
  • SALARY CAP – Allow only one additional step for those teachers affected by the cap.

As you can see, what was asked for and what has been offered aren’t even close to each other. Only one condition was met as asked for, and that is the Pay Parity clause. Dedicated SENCOs to support students with special educational needs are not in Ministry’s offer, miserly release time in the first offer was withdrawn in the second offer, and the pay offer is less than asked for and over a longer period, and Diploma-trained teachers continue to get paid far less than their colleagues despite having the most experience (and often being team leaders, senior staff, and the ones that train new teachers)!

When we are hundreds of teachers short for next year, and we know we will be thousands of teachers short within a couple of years, you’d think Ministry would listen to teachers and make the job more manageable and attractive so that we keep the teachers we already have and attract new ones.  But no.

Something’s got to give: Strike action dates and information can be found here.

If you want to see in full what NZEI teacher members are asking for and what was offered by Ministry, look here.

~ Dianne

 

Teachers Vote To Strike

Primary and Intermediate school NZEI members have voted overwhelmingly to reject the Ministry’s paltry pay and conditions offer, and to hold a three-hour strike on 15 August. But many at the recent paid unions meetings felt that a three-hour strike starting in the afternoon would not give a strong enough message.

For most teachers, a three-hour afternoon strike would impact one hour of classroom time, the rest of the three hours being after 3 o clock. Commentators point out that teachers’ work after 3 o clock – weekly meetings, planning, marking, paperwork and so on – would likely be rescheduled and still have to be done at some other time.  As strikes go, that’s rather lame.

At meetings across the country there was a strong call to replace the three-hour strike with a full-day strike. A whole day. That, many argued, would have more impact and send a far stronger message.

Whether or not NZEI members strike for three hours or a whole day will in the end be down to them. It’s their union – they make that choice. The union is canvassing opinion now, and state that “[d]epending on the level of feedback, an online ballot may be held early next term to vote on whether to extend the strike to a full day on the 15th of August“.

Whatever they think is the best cause of action, NZEI members must make their voices heard. The time is now.

~ Dianne Khan, NZEI member

kuataetewa

 

Dear Friends, forgive us a few hours to try and safeguard the future of all Kiwi kids

teacher voiceDear Friends, Neighbours and carers of NZ kids,

There will be press criticism of teachers and unions here in NZ, over the meetings our unions have called.

The unions have done this to provide information, and a discussion forum about the new funding system Govt. is pushing through, which is an old, over-burdening and ineffective one, under a newish label.

It is a serious issue that will impact on the quality and the equality of our education system here in NZ for years to come.

That organisations are uniting on this one is surely a huge indicator of the seriousness of this latest move. Teachers are not a militant profession, despite what press would like you to believe. They usually get vocal when the well-being of students is threatened.

The issues are far bigger than the Govt would have the public believe.

It is a monster, that will leave boards and Principals with great difficulties, as all funding is lumped into one without protected components, such as the basic level of a set pot for Special Needs, (already not enough), that most schools choose to supplement, but some can’t. So when schools don’t have to account for it, it will all depend on the individual ethos of the Principal and Board.

To achieve funding for highest needs there are complex processes, with serious paperwork, however, on the back of these changes, there will be changes imminent there too and they will not be driven by better provision, but by cost.

New ways of identifying how much is allocated to meet high need schools, will be very challenging and provide another complex layer to battle through to secure appropriate funds for a school.

The result will likely be a hike in class sizes, with reduced support, and inaccurate fallible data about class size being bandied about as ‘proof’ class size doesn’t matter.

Believe me it matters to the quiet kid in the corner, the kid with APD, ASD, DYSLEXIA, to all the kids who need extending, or who have a query to be answered in a lesson and to the mental health of the teacher leading the class.

Also the elephant in the room of salaries. Schools with higher numbers of experienced staff, will have less income to spend on other aspects of school management. The pressure then shifts to how to cut bills in other ways. What would you be happy to see axed from your child’s educational experience? That arts group experience that makes them want to attend each day?

School budget management is already challenging, but increasing the responsibilities of Principals and Boards creates a massive learning need for them, so pushing it through will add extra strain to a stressful job.

So remember, reports in the News, and comments in the Media, are written by those who do not work in the profession, and are subject to their individual bias.

Remember that Ministers and most politicians currently do not listen to teachers, do not recognise the tremendous efforts and sacrifices they make, and undervalue the profession. They seem to see us as agents to deliver a very set prescribed agenda.

Teachers teach because they want to help their students to be the best they can be. They are driven to support their students, often at huge personal cost to their health and well-being, and that of their family.

So forgive us a few hours to try and safeguard the future of all New Zealand kids and the sanity and health of the individuals who go the extra mile daily.

Thanks for supporting us in our efforts to keep NZ education great and fair.

~ Carrie Sherring, NZ Teacher and SENCO.

PS If you could query the use of public funds to prop up Private Sector education with the Govt. , that would be awesome.

Shared with Carrie’s permission. 

Further Reading: http://betterfunding.org.nz/

#betterfunding

Why ‘global funding’ isn’t a good thing

Today, Angela Roberts (PPTA) and Louise Green (NZEI) announced unprecedented joint action on Government funding proposals. The proposals are not welcome and are very much seen as a threat to the New Zealand education system – a threat that could lead to increased class sizes, less qualified teachers, fewer support staff and so it goes on.

Teachers, Support Staff, Principals and parents all need to be aware of what is being proposed and the impacts it could have. At the moment, few are being consulted with, and those that are ‘in the tent’ are under a gagging order, preventing them from telling the rest of us what is truly being proposed.

Here, Angela Roberts and Louise Green explain why they, as heads of the two NZ teachers’ unions, have taken the huge step of calling paid union meetings (PUM) for both unions together in order to look at the proposals:

The Paid Union Meetings will be held around the country between 5 and 16 September, starting with Auckland Town Hall on 5 September, Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre on 6 September and Christchurch’s Horncastle Arena on 7 September.

Meetings will be held at either 9am or 1.30pm to minimise disruption to teaching programmes, children and parents.

Find more details on betterfunding.org.nz 

~ Dianne

Featured image courtesy of NZEI & PTTA.

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Educators join forces for better funding for learning

bulk funding nzei and ppta joint meme

PPTA and NZEI Joint Press Release

Educators from early childhood to secondary schooling are uniting to respond to the government’s latest funding proposal, saying it could result in fewer teachers and larger class sizes.

The government has also refused to explore any increase in funding for education.

PPTA and NZEI Te Riu Roa today announced they are holding combined meetings of their 60,000 members in September.  The meetings are to plan a response to the government’s “global funding” proposal, which is effectively a return to the failed bulk funding experiment of the 1990s.

The education unions have never before undertaken joint meetings of this scale, involving principals, teachers and support staff from ECE to secondary.
The government’s renewed attempt to propose bulk funding would mean all staffing and school operational funding would be delivered to schools on a per-student basis in the form of cash and “credits” for staffing.

This would mean parents on Boards would have to make trade offs between the number of teachers they employ and other non-teaching costs of running a school. This would incentivise:

  • Fewer teachers and larger class sizes
  • The loss of guaranteed minimum teacher staffing for specific year levels such as new entrants and senior secondary classes
  • Increased casualisation of teacher jobs which could undermine quality of teaching
  • Further downwards pressure on support staff hours and pay, which is already bulk funded through schools’ operational grants
  • Removal of the government’s responsibility for issues such as class size and curriculum breadth
  • Removal of certainty about increases in funding to keep up with cost increases or population growth.

bulk funding ppta

Early childhood education has languished under bulk funding for many years and most services have had to make cuts, hire fewer qualified teachers and increase fees to parents. Schools would face a similar threat.

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Louise Green and PPTA President Angela Roberts announced the nationwide Paid Union Meetings at a joint media conference at Wellington Girls’ High School today.

Ms Roberts said bulk funding was simply another back-door attempt to increase class sizes, which outraged parents when it was last attempted three years ago.

“This proposal would result in parents on school boards being forced to do the government’s dirty work the moment the budget gets squeezed. The complexities of juggling credits would also undermine the board focus on improving children’s learning,” she said.

Ms Green said early childhood education and support staff had suffered under a form of bulk funding for many years and to extend that across the sector would be disastrous.

“The past five years of a per-child funding freeze in ECE have forced many centres to compromise quality by reducing the number of qualified teachers. There is no reason to think bulk funding would work any differently in schools,” she said.

The Paid Union Meetings will be held around the country between 5 and 16 September, starting with Auckland Town Hall on 5 September, Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre on 6 September and Christchurch’s Horncastle Arena on 7 September. 

Meetings will be held at either 9am or 1.30pm to minimise disruption to teaching programmes, children and parents.

Find more details on betterfunding.org.nz.

bulk funding nzei and ppta joint meme

 

Dearest Hosko, regarding those pesky teacher unions…

heroDearest Mike Hosking,

I hear you’ve been setting the teachers’ unions right on Seven Sharp again tonight. Good on you. I totally get where you’re coming from – they’re to blame for teacher shortages, your receding hairline and the break up of The Beatles. I’m not saying Illuminati, but….

Of course the unions will say that the government are the ones that could sanction additional payments to attract shortage staff, and that housing costs and the price of living are factors outside their control, too, and then they’ll boo-hoo about the shitty 2% pay rise they got.

They’ll not trumpet the huge starting pay teachers get – some stroll on into the job on a whopping $35,267! And ten years later, after barely any work at all, Ministry will kindly have doubled that! All that for just three or four years of full time graduate study and ten years of work and a few upskilling courses every term. That’s nearly as much as the starting wage for an IT bod! Ministry are far too generous – the 2% rise was too good for them. Bloody spongers!

But you and I know the truth, don’t we? Unlike you, who works very hard to sit there on a chair at a desk making pronouncements (a very tiring and demanding job, which they clearly don’t appreciate) and who actually earns your pay, those union bods are only in it for the money and the fame. 

The unions will then rattle off that there’s a mountain of research out there showing how ineffective, and even damaging, performance pay is. Pfffft. A few piffly research studies by a few dozen professors from highly respected universities and they call that evidence. I know what I know, and the reckons of an old, white, guy who has made a sterling career out of being a radio and TV host is much more reliable that all that university crap.

The unions just don’t get it! You’re helping, for heaven’s sake! Nothing encourages more people into teaching than having the media bad-mouth the job and the people every night – it draws them in like moths.

Keep up the excellent work, my good man.

yours etc… 

Why NZ should care that teachers in England are on strike

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On Tuesday 5th July 2016, thousands of teachers in England are striking, and the reasons that are doing so are very pertinent to what is happening in New Zealand.  Everything that is happening there is already being put in place here, bit by bit by bit.

Here, Charlotte Carson explains the reasons that the teachers are striking and why parents should care:

Parents – are you a wee bit pissed off that teachers are on strike again? And it’s all about their pay?!!

I am a teacher and I will be on strike on Tuesday. I want to explain why.

1. It’s not really about pay.
As a profession I think we are well paid. That is why we have good quality professionals working hard to teach children, inspire them and look after them. But this is about to change.

2. The White Paper
The government’s latest white paper proposes DEREGULATION of teachers’ pay and conditions. Currently all local authority employed teachers in England are paid according to the same contract. Like nurses and doctors, we have automatic pay progression (so the longer you serve the more you get – an incentive to stay in the profession), pay portability (if we move schools we get the same basic pay – they can’t pay us less – this stops a competition between schools for teachers based on money – without it richer schools will always poach good staff from poorer schools) .

3. What is performance-related pay?
The introduction of performance related pay will mean that teachers get paid according to exam results. As a parent I would never want a teacher to look at my child and think ‘is he going to wreck my data and stop my pay rise?’ We are not working in sales – it is hugely problematic to pay us based on exam results.

4. Why should non-teachers care about teachers pay and conditions?
Deregulation also means that our working hours, holidays, pay, sick pay and maternity pay will be individually decided by the employer – the academy that is. An Academy in Manchester has in its contract that maternity pay will be ‘subject to affordability’. Who will become a teacher if the terms and conditions are unattractive?

A mum said to me yesterday ‘but in my job I don’t get good maternity pay – why should I care about teachers?’. My answer is this: public sector pay and conditions set the bar for private sector pay and conditions. If we get screwed you will get screwed too.

5. What’s the problem with academies and free schools?
Academies and free schools are businesses. That means their primary concern is money. The government is paving the way for them to become profit-making businesses. Already many academies double up as wedding venues, conference facilities etc. No harm in generating revenue eh? Well only if it’s being ploughed back into the school and the children. Let’s remember schools are about children aren’t they? It seems not.

Many academies including Harris academies have recently got in trouble for deliberately excluding ‘problem children’ and paying local authority schools to take them off their hands – because they wreck the data. How can you publish your excellent GCSE results if some stubborn children just won’t make progress! The answer in some academies is to get rid of them – then you don’t have to report their results.

So if the money isn’t spent on the kids where does it go?

Good question!
Do a Google search on Haberdashers Free School account fraud. He ran off with £4million! How did he manage to do that? Answer – because he was only accountable to the board of governors and the head teacher. Local authority schools are overseen by a democratically elected local council. Academies don’t have to bother with that level of accountability. And the government also wants to get rid of parent governors. This would mean that academies would only be accountable to themselves. We’re talking about millions of pounds of public money. Already there have been many documented cases of fraud in academies and free schools.

6. Qualified teachers v. unqualified teachers
Academies and free schools don’t have to employ qualified teachers. Unqualified teachers are cheaper of course. But I know which one I want teaching my children.

This is all I have time to write just now.
The problem is that most teachers are so busy that they haven’t taken time to communicate all this with parents. I think we need to get much better at doing that.

But just think about your children’s teachers – do you trust them? If you do then please trust that they are on strike for the right reasons – for the future of our jobs and our schools – defending education from privatisation.”

New Zealand parents, take note – this is all coming our way, too.

~ Dianne

“I love teaching, but…” Asking are the unions doing enough to fight poor reforms?

A teacher writes:

I love teaching, I love the spark in the eyes of the learners, I love to challenge myself and the kids to achieve the best they can.

I try supporting my colleagues as best as I can, I try hard to be the Teacher I wanted my kids to have. I am not perfect, but I extend myself, I learn, I try to take on board new ideas and new ways forward. I try hard to have an open mind.

I work in a supportive environment, with kind and wonderful people. I am not unhappy in my job.

I am saying that before I write the following because I want to make it clear I am not negative about education. I think there are amazing people out there, I think there is some, new and amazing stuff going on and I want to be a part of it, but…

This week I was at a union meeting again, and again I left angry and disappointed.

Not for myself, but for our students.

The real issues, are being swept under the mat.

The agreement we were presented with was toothless, there were some small steps, actually tiny steps.

The Rep was keen to point out the gains-the small victories, I feel the negotiating team no doubt had a hard job getting any sort of agreement in the current climate. The issue though is increasingly that we are presented with information and told to accept it, that there is no alternative.

ID-10067205.jpgBeing told that we would be ‘hauled back’ (words of the rep) to more meetings if we didn’t agree to the settlement – sounded like a threat. As did ‘we will lose the back pay if it is not passed immediately’.

To be honest, if their was an alternative-such as fighting for the rights of students, I would gladly give up the pay.

Being told the one day in 2017, was a bargaining chip for further improvements in terms of release time, will be no good to the increasing number of teachers suffering from physical symptoms of stress now. There is not another day in 2018. This is a stepping stone we were told to help further negotiation in the next round. I have a feeling, many of my colleagues in the room may have left the profession by then.

Where is the union’s responsibility to protect its members from undue stress and workload?

So when do we fight the real issues, the reduction of the Teachers in Early Childhood, measuring kids in core subjects before they have truly settled into school, setting unrealistic targets, manipulating funding to make it look like an increase, when in real terms it is a reduction.

Increasing the paper workload due to the nature of the changes and expectations, but not giving teachers time to do this.

Teachers who are so exhausted and stressed they are breaking down. How many high quality teachers will we lose as they burn out? How many have lost the passion they had?

I would gladly forgo pay increases to secure release time benefits for our Teachers and Senior Staff to protect their health.

I would again give back pay increases, to see clear provision of professional development that schools can afford in areas that they need, or that enhance expertise in areas beyond the ‘core’.
I would give back the small ‘gains’ we secured to see my colleagues able to cope again.

Sorry for the rant.

We need the Union to stand up for us and our students and be prepared to help us get the parents on side. It looks as if our union has lost its teeth.

Unions are so important; they need to represent and present, galvanise support and be prepared to go the distance.

The whole point of paid union meetings being in school time was to acknowledge that Teachers needed time to discuss issues in an open forum.

We now have these in our non contact time as a norm. We do not want to disrupt our pupils and their families, but our time is very precious too and it is time we use to support the learning of the students.

A meeting should be about discussion and a level presentation of the alternative to accepting the agreement, and a chance to validate how we are feeling.

I resent being stood over as I consider my vote and being asked for it before I was ready; there was an assumption that there was nothing to consider.

Teachers are too tired to fight, they can barely meet the demands of their jobs. In 10 years of teaching in New Zealand and after 27 years in the profession I love, I am seeing more newly qualified Teachers become disillusioned after a few years, and excellent high quality teachers considering their future in the profession.

Teacher Burnout is a huge issue. The union needs to study it, help us present evidence, and to assist the fight to stop it.

Sorry for the rant. Frustrated.”

What are your thoughts?

~ Dianne

Notes: Original post shared with the author’s permission; Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Collaboration, competition and pitchforks

Another NZ Herald Editorial on education misses the mark. In a bid to explain why most of the money in the Communities of Learners scheme is going to high decile schools, the writer leans on the tired and weary trope “it’s the unions’ fault”.

The writer doesn’t seem to know the history of the Communities of Learners scheme, from its initial incarnation as Investing in Educational Success (IES) to what’s currently in place Communities of Learners (CoLs). Nor that CoLs came about after a long and hard road of teachers’ unions pushing to improve the original IES scheme, which was, in its first incarnation, really quite dreadful. And the article certainly has no real analysis of the widespread concerns with the policy (by any name).

So here, I’ll fill you in.

Pitchforks

Despite the tone of the editorial, teachers (and by extension, their unions) didn’t see the IES announcement and think “Oh yippee, I’ll dust off my pitchfork!” Instead, they looked carefully at the announcement, talked about it in great detail, asked a lot of questions, and found it seriously wanting.

So they did what any co-operative group would – they asked their unions to ask Ministry to go back to the table to make the policy more workable. Not so much mobs with pitchforks, more a hope for the education equivalent of a community farming co-op.

The Concerns

One of the biggest concerns about IES was the plan to pay a select few ‘super staff’ whilst adding to many people’s workloads and giving no extra funds for the students. It takes a team to improve things, and not recognising that was the first mistake. Teachers argued that the money for these select few jobs was over the top and, whilst a bonus for those taking leadership roles may be acceptable, the majority of the IES funding should be directed at the students rather than the staff.

That’s the other big problem educators had: the idea that a few super staff could turn everything around without a cent more for the students. No money for professional development or specialist programmes or teacher aides or therapists or equipment. Really?

Collaboration or Competition?

And what about this notion that IES aims to encourage schools to work together to improve educational standards?

The IES scheme as government proposed it expected schools to work together whilst simultaneously competing against each other. It’s somewhat counter-intuitive, is it not? But since most targets for schools centre around National Standards and NCEA pass rates, the scheme does indeed pose a competitive model. Add to that the fact that both National Standards and NCEA have very well known issues around reliability and parity, and we are opening the system up to all manner of problems.

A Seamless Education System

Another claim was that IES aimed to make students’ transitions through the education system smoother. An immediate question this posed was, why was Early Childhood Education (ECE) completely left out of the equation?

One the one hand, Ministry are extolling the benefits of preschoolers taking part in ECE, and on the other hand they are setting up IES without ECE. The message is contradictory – does ECE matter or not? Is it part of a child’s learning journey or not? Teachers believe it is – in which case any scheme aiming for smooth transitions through the education system and greater collaboration between education providers should include ECE.

So no, unions didn’t dust off their pitch forks for the fun of it. They did what their members asked them to do, which is to go back to Ministry and work to improve this faulty policy. Which, to the best of their abilities and against significant opposition from Ministry and the Minister of Education, they did. And we now have Communities of Learners.

The new incarnation isn’t perfect. It still rests on data that isn’t reliable and still pits schools against each other by comparing pass rates without considering the very many variables at play. But it’s better than it was, and that’s a start.

Trust and Collaboration: Setting the Example

Improvement takes collaboration. Improvement takes a shared purpose. Improvement takes honesty and trust. And while the Minister of Education and her Ministry are asking schools to do those things, they could do far better at leading by example. Perhaps if they had trusted educators and collaborated with them to form the IES in the first place, it could have been better, sooner.

There’s a lesson in there, somewhere, and if it’s heeded perhaps we can make Communities of Learners better still.

~ Dianne, SOSNZ

______________

Further reading/information:

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/education/news/article.cfm?c_id=35&objectid=11652326

Pitchfork and farmer image: Image courtesy of Simon Howden at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Should NZEI and PPTA amalgamate?

UK teachers’ unions, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) are looking at merging to become a united force.

NUT and ATL are not the only teaching unions in the UK, so a merger would not mean all teachers and lecturers were in one single union. It wouldn’t mean one united force for all teachers.  But it would bring together the NUT’s 330,000 members and the ATL’s 124,000 members to create a far bigger force of almost half a million teachers and lecturers.

Should NZ teachers’ unions consider the same thing?

NZEI and PPTA

merger1In New Zealand, the NZEI has around 50,000 members, whilst PPTA has well over 17,000 members. Joining forces would make one super-union of around 67,000 members – not on the scale of the proposed merger of the NUT and ATL, but significant none-the-less. But is it needed and is it wanted?

NZEI and PPTA often follow the same or similar paths and policies but not always. For example, PPTA refused to put forward candidates for the then soon-to-be-formed Education Council, preferring not to engage at all with what they deemed to be a flawed situation, while NZEI opted to put forward candidates on the basis that if the formation of the Education Council was a fait accompli then they may as well be part of shaping it. Both paths have merit, and I don’t intend to debate them here, offering them only as an example of where the unions have gone down different paths and to ask whether one united voice in an amalgamated NZ teachers’ union is even possible.

Disagreement and Democracy

Disagreement between members is no barrier to a good, democratic, working union. Indeed, it’s exactly as one would expect in a democratic institution where everyone has a voice. There are already diverse views within each union, and that’s a positive thing. Both NZEI and PPTA are excellent at canvassing their members and making decisions through democratic representation so that the majority voice is represented.  So disagreement per se is not a barrier to a merger.

Barriers

So if amalgamation would give a united front, and all members would still have a voice, why not merge NZEI and PPTA?   One thing to consider is that perhaps amalgamation would be a negative thing:

Maybe it’s beneficial to have two distinct sets of representation at the table when changes are being proposed, irrespective of whether those views are different or the same? When there are not many organisations consulted, perhaps two sets of school representation is better than one?

It’s also worth considering whether amalgamation would dilute the strong focus each union currently has on a particular sector, to the detriment of both? Is bigger necessarily better?

For any number of reasons, it may not be what each union’s members want – and if there is no interest from members, then that’s that.

Consideration

One would hope, given the sustained attack new Zealand’s public education system from ECE to High School is under, the pros and cons of a merger to create a stronger unified voice would be given serious consideration.

I’m interested to hear your thoughts.

~ Dianne

Note: These views are entirely my own and do not necessarily represent those of the NZEI, of which I am a member and a branch secretary. I have not consulted with PPTA or NZEI or any other union or body before writing this, merely offering my ponderings as sparked by the news of a proposed merger of UK unions.

You and your union… my thinks

danger educated union member.jpgHello all. Happy 2016, and sorry I’ve been somewhat absent, but amusing a 6 year old banshee full time is (as most of you know) not for the faint hearted, and so I’ve been somewhat distracted.

I was hoping to have another few days before I burst into action. I even avoided posting about the charter school shenanigans from last week. Perhaps I’ll reflect on that one later. For now, I want to share with you some thought on our unions…

I’ve seen a few people over the years saying they don’t know what they pay their union fees for, what’s the point joining, and so on.  I saw another such comment this week, and it got me thinking that people really must not be aware of how bad things were before unions. Do people truly not know what huge benefit they are to workers? Perhaps not.

I guess if one has never worked in a non-unionised profession and seen the difference, it’s easy to take what benefit they bring for granted.

So, for those not in the know, here are just a few of the benefits of being in a union:

Wages: Your union works hard to get and maintain decent pay for us. If you think we are underpaid now, just look at the information on wages for non-unionised workers, for example…

union membership and wages huff post

 

PD: Your union provides professional development year-round. Did you know you can apply to your local branch to go on any of the union’s courses and the chances are they’ll be able to fund it for you or contribute? Coming up soon are the Pasifika Fono, the New Educators Network hui, to name but two great events. And there are all these ones. Go on – take advantage of this free and fabulous union PD.

Information: Your union keeps up to date with all of the changes and proposals relating to education and shares that information with you via branches, emails, press releases, social media, and meetings. Read the emails, check your branch’s Facebook page, go to meetings – make use of what is there. Because although the union does all this, you still have to make the effort to read it and be involved. It’s worth it.

ACET: This was hard fought for by NZEI, so that expert teachers would not have to take up management positions if they wanted to earn more but could stay in the classroom and teach. Members wanted it, the union got it. And it was achieved through hard bargaining.

Release time: This is another thing that was fought for and won. There was a time when there was no release time. That time could easily come again if the unions become weakened.

Legal help: If you need legal help, your union is there, whether the problem’s large or small. And all for FREE.

Advice: The unions’ helplines are there to help with all work-related queries. They are free and only one call away.

Death Benefit: When an NZEI union member dies, the family gets a lump sum from the union. Other unions may also do this – it’s worth checking.

Annual Conference: Amazing speakers, brilliant networking, loads of professional development and sharing, and all paid for by the union. Flights, mileage, accommodation and food. Again, ask your local branch if you want to go. Last year was my first one and it was well worth going.

I get that there are frustrations – I’ve had my own gripes – but here’s the thing; the union is only as good as its members. If something’s not working for you, tell them.

If we want the union to be strong, we must add our own strengths to it. In much the same way that teachers cannot tip information into a student’s head and make them learn, the union cannot help a member who doesn’t participate.

Or, to butcher an idiom, they can lead us horses to water and even ensure it’s drinkable, but we still have to tilt our own heads down and slurp.

Read the emails, go to meetings, pick up the pamphlets on the staff room coffee table.

Take part.

Trust me, it is worth it.

NZ Union websites:

NZEI: http://www.nzei.org.nz/

PPTA: http://ppta.org.nz/

TEU: http://teu.ac.nz/

E tū: http://www.etu.nz/

 

 

 

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