The Post Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA) has been negotiating with the Government since August last year for a settlement to their collective agreement, however no settlement has been reached.

“...our members are running out of patience,” Jack Boyle, PPTA president, said.

“We hope to receive a realistic offer from the Government for teachers to consider on April 3, but if we don’t, we will use the day to publicly protest the lack of progress.”

The PPTA said its members described previous offers from the Government to settle collective bargaining as “not touching the sides” of the issues secondary schools face.

It said there is an “unprecedented” shortage of secondary teachers.

“Jacinda Ardern’s  government knows the situation in secondary schools isn’t business as usual,” Boyle said.

“Teachers want to be working with students in our classrooms. We don’t want to be put in the position where we have to take industrial action.”

Ellen MacGregor-Reid, Deputy Secretary Early Learning and Student Achievment with the Ministry of Education, acknowledged that the two parties are in mediated bargaining to negotiate a settlement, within the available $496 million package.

 “These talks have been ongoing and are progressing. We are meeting with PPTA again next week on March 7 and 8 for more talks,” she said in a statement.

“We know there is high demand for teachers in New Zealand and supply is tight.

“However, we have a supply of qualified teachers ready for interviews. The supply is there to meet demand.”

Addressing the major issues raised by secondary teachers during their bargaining, including teacher pay, teacher numbers and workload, Macgregor-Reid explained what the Government had offered.

“The details of the last offer made to secondary teachers would have seen their base salaries increase by 3 per cent every year for three years (9.3 per cent in total).

“Around 70 per cent of secondary teachers would see their base salary increase from $78,000 to $87,790 through the introduction of a new pay step.

“This is almost $10,000 more pay annually after two years.

“The Government has an extensive work programme underway that will help address workload concerns.

“A joint taskforce (including the PPTA) is identifying compliance-related administrative tasks for streamlining and the NCEA review has the potential to help, including reducing the workload associated with internal moderation, which would be effective this year.” 

MacGregor-Reid said retention rates for secondary teachers remained at over 90 per cent.

“...the decline in ITE (Initial Teacher Education) enrolments has been slowing, and our most recent information suggests that primary and secondary enrolments have increased this year.

“There have also been 350 secondary teachers who have enrolled in the Government-paid for, Teacher Education Refresh Programme.

“Additionally the Education Workforce Strategy under development will also, over time, enable teachers and principals to focus on their core educational roles,” she said.

Last year there were suggestions that the nation's two major education unions, PPTA and NZEI, could hold joint strike action this term.

A spokesperson for NZEI, the primary teachers' union, said it is in ongoing mediated negotiations with the Ministry.