As the latest round of mediated negotiations between the Ministry of Education and primary teachers’ union NZEI Te Riu Roa draw to a close, union members say they are disappointed in the revised Ministry offers.

Primary teacher Tute Porter-Samuels, a member of the primary teachers’ negotiation team, said while she’s pleased to finally be able to bring a new offer back to members, she’s disappointed with how little the Ministry was willing to move.

“The negotiation teams made it clear to the Ministry that the new offers are disappointing. They do not adequately address the urgent need for more time and more pay so that we can attract and retain great teachers,” she said.

However, the Ministry believes the new offers address the NZEI’s pay and workload concerns, and provide a new option for primary principals. Ellen MacGregor-Reid, Deputy Secretary for Early Learning and Student Achievement outlines the offers currently on the table.

“The pay offer made to primary teachers in November 2018 would have seen 19,000 teachers getting an average increase of around $10,000 after 24 months. One of the new options would introduce the additional pay step at the top of the base scale – offered in November – a full year earlier. This would mean that after 12 months, around 9,700 teachers currently on the maximum step of the base salary scale would receive an increase of nearly $7,000, up from just over $4,500 under the previous timing.

“The other option provides 10 hours of additional classroom release time, per year for three years to the majority of primary teachers, in addition to the November pay offers.

“Under the new offer all 2,000 primary principals would receive the pay offer made to them in November, which would see them receive at least a 3 percent pay rise each year for three years. In addition for principals of smaller schools with 100 children or less under the new offer will benefit from 10 hours per term additional classroom release time.

MacGregor-Reid says the Employment Relations Authority has described the offer as ‘handsome and competitive’. The offer was made within the $698 million package available to reach a settlement,

“NZEI were advised before negotiations started that we would be bargaining within this amount, whereas their claims would cost $2.5 billion.”

NZEI will take the new offers to primary principals and teachers at paid union meetings in the week of 18 March. If members vote to reject the offers, they will then vote on whether to join with their secondary school colleagues in strike action on 3 April.

“Principal and teacher members will consider these offers very carefully. We’ll be asking, are they good enough? Will they address the crisis in teacher recruitment and retention? If we vote to reject them, do we want to join with the PPTA and strike on 3 April?” says Porter-Samuels.

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