By: Zoe Hunter

The rejection of $700 million in pay increases is about “far more than just money”, Tauranga principals say.

Local educators say the Ministry of Education’s latest offer did not address the “haemorrhaging” of teachers in schools and was a “complete loss of respect” for the profession.

However, the ministry said there had been good progress to ensure there was a supply of qualified primary school teachers to meet demand.

The New Zealand Educational Institute members have voted by electronic ballot not to accept the ministry’s most recent offer to settle the collective agreements.

The union’s national executive will call paid union meetings in the second week of next term. If no progress is made by then, members may vote on taking partial strike action by working to rule from May 15 until a national day of strike action on May 29.

This would mean working only within 8am to 5pm on Monday to Friday.

Western Bay of Plenty Principals’ Association’s Matt Simeon said the latest offers were “just a different way to slice the cake”. The struggle for teachers was around recruitment and retention.

“We need good teachers seeing the value of staying in education. We have to have this profession seen as desirable.”

Tauranga Special School principal Barrie Wickens said the campaign was about more than money.

“What is settled today sets the benchmark for many years ahead in the education sector,” he said.

NZEI Tauranga branch lobbyist Andrea Andresen said teachers were “underwhelmed” at the latest offer.

“Neither will seriously address the haemorrhaging of teachers our schools are seeing. New Zealand cannot afford to keep losing teachers at the rate it is.”

The rejection of the latest offer was “far more than just pay”, Greerton Village School principal Anne Mackintosh said, and hard fought for conditions had been eroded away.

Schools faced increased pressures, had to combat difficult social situations and no longer had parity with secondary school teachers.

“[It is] a complete loss of respect for our profession,” she said. “[It is also about] teachers’ inability to financially survive in some areas and raise their families on very low salaries.”

Tauranga mum Dorne Mason, whose children go to Bellevue School, said she fully supported the teachers’ strike.

“Teachers have a real big impact on children’s lives at such a young age,” she said.

“We should support these teachers in any way possible and if they have to take days off school to prove a point then so be it.”

Ministry of Education deputy secretary of early learning and student achievement Ellen MacGregor-Reid said NZEI members had rejected almost $700 million in pay increases.

The ministry would remain available to negotiating how that money was divided, she said, and to discussing how other aspects of the claim could be considered in time.

Under the offer, more than 30,000 primary teachers would have received a 3 per cent pay rise every year for three years.

One option would have seen around 30 per cent of the country’s primary teachers get $6973 more in their pay after 12 months. By 24 months, this would increase to almost $10,000 extra to an annual salary of $85,481.

Another option included 10 hours of additional classroom release time for the majority of teachers annually for three years.

MacGregor-Reid said there had been good progress to ensure there was a supply of qualified primary school teachers to meet demand.

New offer summary:

Primary teachers

The total cost of the revised offer is $698 million over four years, $129m more than previous offer

Option 1 for primary teachers (pay):

The additional pay step at the top of the base scale offered in November 2018 would come into effect 12 months from the terms of settlement, instead of 24 months as previously offered

Option 2 for primary teachers (workload and pay):
Primary teachers would receive an additional 10 hours of classroom release time each year for three years. This would mean that the majority of teachers will benefit from an additional 30 hours of classroom release time for three years, and for those working part-time it would be pro-rated

Primary principals:
At least 3 per cent pay rises every year for three years, along with additional classroom release time for more than 600 principals of smaller schools (up to 100 students)
Source: Ministry of Education

Source: NZ Herald


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