Barb Curran is in no doubt the electricity she felt in the room in Rotorua last month at Hui-ā-Tau will be replicated in Paid Union Meetings up and down Aotearoa from next Monday. She is reminding people how important it is to attend and reconnect with colleagues.

“It was amazing,” says Barb, who was re-elected as the Primary Teacher representative on National Executive for another two-year term. “There was a palpable sense of excitement in the room.

“You could just feel the determination amongst everyone to ensure that the Government hears our concerns over our claims and our push to change staffing in our schools and kura.”

Barb says part of the reason for the enthusiasm was that, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was the first annual conference to be held in person in three years. She suspects she will see the same next week at PUMs.

“The over-riding feeling was that it was a bit weird, but also something that was so familiar.

“It’s a group of people who have a common set of values and are all really enthusiastic and committed to public education and being able to get together to discuss the issues that affect how our tamariki learn.”

Barb is leading the negotiating team for the Primary Teachers Collective Agreement (PTCA). She says that bargaining was a slow process, but now that an offer has been made by the Ministry on behalf of the Government, teachers need to discuss it ahead of next week’s meetings.

“These meetings for all teachers and principals are crucial,” she says. “We need to be talking about the offer, how it compares to inflation and what we’re going to do next.

“But we also have think longer term and whether this offer will help our tamariki get the education they deserve. It’s why we need to discuss the issues that we have raised in our Wāwāhi Tahā | Time 4 Tamariki campaign.

“The widespread understaffing still remains a major concern. As does getting enough time to complete our work during working hours, getting more support for our colleagues working with high need students and greater security for relievers.

“What was really evident to me from Hui-ā-Tāu was the level of commitment amongst our members to keep pushing ahead with this, so all I can say is that we should never forget about the importance of talking to our communities.

“That’s how we can get our politicians to take notice about why our tamariki need smaller class sizes and to get them to show support for our claims in Budget 2023 and ahead for the election.

“And the final lesson for me from Hui-ā-Tāu was that it reminded me of the power of union and working together collectively. It’s now up to us to show that from next week.

“See you there.”

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