Primary teachers and principals have overwhelmingly rejected the latest offers from the Ministry of Education to settle their collective agreements.

Under these rejected offers, more than 30,000 primary teachers would have received a 3% pay rise every year for three years, and access to higher maximum steps in the pay scale.
They were also offered the option to either bring forward access to the new top pay step by 12 months, or have extra classroom release time. The first option would have seen 9,700 primary teachers (around 30%) get $6,973 more in their pay after 12 months, increasing to almost $10,000 (an annual salary of $85,481) after 24 months. The second option was for 10 hours of additional classroom release time for the majority of teachers, every year for three years.
For primary principals the option offered was for at least 3% pay rises every year for three years, along with additional classroom release time for over 600 principals of smaller schools (up to 100 students).
But Sose Annandale, a principal from Porirua on the principals’ negotiating team, says these offers were very similar to the Government’s previously rejected offer in November.

The Ministry of Education says it is prepared to enter further negotiations but indicates that it won’t budge from the $698 million it has available.

“We remain available to negotiate with the NZEI over how the almost $700 million available to settle the primary teachers’ and principals’ collectives is best apportioned, and to discuss how other aspects of their claims may be considered over time,” says Ellen MacGregor-Reid, Deputy Secretary Early Learning & Student Achievement.

NZEI Te Riu Roa president Lynda Stuart says members’ rejection indicated teachers and principals were united and resolute in their commitment to getting significantly improved pay, time and support for learning needs.

“We will be going straight back to talk to the Government with that message – that it’s time to get really serious about giving us time to teach and lead, and time to take some real steps to make teaching a viable long-term career choice.”

She warned that significant disruption could occur in schools next term if the Government did not focus on finding a solution quickly.

“The solution is in the Government’s hands. We would all prefer to be in our schools focussed on teaching and learning, but members have sent a very clear message that they want to see change now. That’s why our next step is discussions with government to see how we can make progress.”

NZEI’s National Executive agreed over the weekend to call paid union meetings in the second week of next term (May 6-10). If there was no progress made by then, it is proposing that members vote on taking partial strike action by working to rule from May 15th until a national day of strike action on May 29th. The work to rule would mean working only within 8am-5pm, Monday to Friday.

Teacher leader Margie Askin-Jarden from Christchurch said teachers showed every day and in the most extreme circumstances that they prioritised the care and learning of children.

“But the profession truly is at breaking point. We cannot continue to hold a broken system together because in the end the collateral damage is not just us, it is our children and their learning.”

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