Education Minister Chris Hipkins says the current pay offers for teachers are “really good offers” and won’t be increased.

“We’ve been clear the current offers of $698 million for primary school teachers and principals and $496 million for secondary teachers are really good offers and the Government will not be increasing the total amount in this pay round,” he says.

His comments come as members of both primary and secondary teacher unions vote this week on whether they will take joint strike action on 29 May.

The Government has offered primary and secondary school teachers $1.2 billion worth of pay rises and other improvements to their terms and conditions which go a considerable way towards addressing teachers’ concerns, the Minister says.

“This is by far the biggest offer teachers have had in a decade.”

Hipkins made note of the huge range of demands the Government is trying to balance.

“While we recognise with our offer that improving teachers’ salaries is important, it’s only one part.”

Hipkins said that while he knows pay is an important factor in teachers feeling valued and fulfilled in their roles, the current teachers’ claims would cost the Government $3.9 billion – which on a like for like basis is a third of total new Government spending in the last Budget.

“Our offers will see most primary school teachers get a pay rise of $10,000 over the next two years.

“Even the Employment Relations Authority has described our offer to primary schools teachers and principals as ‘handsome and competitive’,” says Hipkins.

However, the unions remain unimpressed and disappointed with the current offers.

“The offers we have received from the government do not address the issues our profession faces. We wonder what it will take for the government to listen to us, acknowledge the truth, and act?” said Jack Boyle, PPTA president.

NZEI Te Riu Roa president Lynda Stuart added, “It’s time for the government to prioritise giving teachers time to teach and to lead. To address the education crisis we need to ensure teaching is a viable long-term career choice. If we’re going to make Aotearoa the best place in the world to raise a child, the government needs to find a solution – now.”

However, Hipkins has expressed commitment to working through all the issues raised by teachers but says it will take time.

He drew attention to commitments already made including the extra $500 million to support children with additional learning needs, the abolishment of National Standards, and the $135 million to address short to medium-term challenge of teacher shortages.

“Collectively, I am sure these initiatives will benefit those in our schools who are feeling under pressure in their jobs,” he said.

“We know we have a lot of catching up to do in education, but some of the issues will take time to work through,” he said.

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