NET's talks with bureau hit snags over changes

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 October, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 October, 2008, 12:00am

Negotiations between the Education Bureau and native-English-speaking teachers over an increase in their special allowance have been held up because of staff changes, the bureau said this week.

David Stead, chairman of Native English-speaking Teachers' Association (Nesta), said the recent financial turmoil and rent increases had put them under a lot of financial pressure.

'The situation is worse now,' he said. 'Some NETs who were living in Central and the Mid-Levels have been priced out.'

More than 470 out of 922 NETs working in local schools have signed a petition for more special allowance.

Teachers receive HK$12,950 to help cover rental expenses. Nesta wanted the allowance to be increased by up to 30 per cent, which would take it to about HK$17,000.

'Because of the change of personnel on the bureau's part, we had to brief the new person on the details,' Mr Stead said. 'The process has been held up a bit.'

The bureau has agreed to increase the allowance, but the two sides differed on the calculation for measuring average rental prices. 'We have difference of opinions ... but the bureau is sympathetic to our situation,' Mr Stead said. 'And we will meet again at the end of October.'

Nesta also demanded a new education allowance for NETs with children and an increase in baggage and medical allowances, which had remained unchanged for ten years.

'The bureau has difficulty recruiting qualified people,' Mr Stead said.

A bureau spokeswoman said it held regular liaison meetings with Nesta and that although a decision had yet to be made on the issue, the basic methodology used in 2005 calculations would be followed.


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