By: Simon Collins

The primary teachers’ union says it is “disappointed” with a new pay offer and may hold a third national strike on April 3 if teachers reject the offer.

The offer includes two options which would either give teachers more classroom release time or bring part of their pay increases forward by one year.

But both options have stuck to a previous offer to raise the basic pay scale by 3 per cent a year for three years plus add an extra step at the top of the scale and a $500 one-off payment – which the union says is only half a $1000 cash payment being offered to secondary teachers.

Ministry of Education deputy secretary Ellen MacGregor-Reid said the latest offer stayed within a fiscal envelope of $698 million over the four years to June 2022 – the same cost as the ministry’s previous offer made in November.

She said the ministry told the union “before negotiations started that we would be staying within this amount”.

The union, the NZ Educational Institute (NZEI), will put the latest offers to members at 247 stopwork meetings from Kaitaia to Invercargill in the week of March 18-22.

A member of the NZEI negotiating team, Tute Porter-Samuels, said that while she was pleased to finally be able to bring a new offer back to members, she was “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,” she said.

“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 that if teachers vote to reject the offers, they will vote on whether to join with their secondary school colleagues in strike action on April 3.

They have already held two one-day strikes – a national strike on August 15 last year and a series of regional one-day strikes last November.

The Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) said last Saturday that it would “publicly protest” on April 3 if it did not receive “a realistic offer” before then.

PPTA president Jack Boyle said tonight that the protest would not necessarily be a strike.

“That is the day set aside, but we hope we won’t have to use it for strike action,” he said.

“We would prefer to be using that date for our asking our members to ratify hopefully a settlement of the collective. We have got be hopeful, and there is a bit of time between now and then.”

The PPTA and the ministry ended two days of mediation in Wellington today and the PPTA executive meets this weekend to review progress.

The two new options being offered to primary teachers are:

  • Increasing paid classroom release time from 40 hours to 50 hours a year for each fulltime-equivalent teacher for the years 2019, 2020 and 2021 only; OR
  • Adding a new step at the top of the pay scale in February 2020, one year earlier than offered in November.

But the union comments on its website: “Other groups in the sector have been offered a $1000 one-off gross payment. Does our $500 cut it?”

Both new offers promise to keep primary teachers on the same pay scales as their secondary colleagues, but the website says primary teachers have now fallen behind because their last collective agreement expired before the secondary teachers’ agreement.

“Because of the different term lengths across the various collective agreements in the sector, primary teacher pay rates now sit up to 3.9 per cent behind other state school teachers,” it says.

“But the ministry says that the package with the additional CRT effectively delivers remuneration comparability. Looking at either the pay or release time, we disagree.”

Source: NZ Herald

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