Delegates listen to Education Minister Chris Hipkins’ speech to the PPTA annual conference in Wellington today. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Secondary teachers have voted to reject a 9.3 per cent pay offer from the Government, and say if a second offer isn’t good enough, they’ll be voting on industrial action next.

Delegates representing more than 17,000 secondary teachers, meeting at the Post Primary Teachers’ Association annual conference in Wellington, called on the Government to come back with an offer that genuinely addressed teacher shortages and excessive workload before union meetings beginning on November 7.

Delegates voted unanimously to reject the offer, and cheered when it was carried.

Many called the offer “insulting”, saying it didn’t address teacher shortages or workload issues.

“The Government’s offer doesn’t touch the sides of addressing the problem,” said PPTA president Jack Boyle.

“We can’t accept this offer. It would leave secondary teaching on the downward trajectory that it’s been on for the last decade, with the attractiveness and sustainability of this great profession being eroded further,” Boyle said in a statement.

A vote for industrial action would put them on the same war footing as their primary teacher counterparts, who will decide later this month whether to take part in a week of rolling strikes in the regions in November.

The NZEI, which represents primary teachers, is seeking 16 per cent pay increase over two years plus more staffing. The Ministry of Education has offered a revised 9.3 per cent pay rise over three years.

Deputy Secretary Ellen MacGregor-Reid revealed today that the same offer was made to secondary teachers.

She said it was a good offer that moved beginner teachers’ base salaries from $51,200 to $55,137 and base salaries for those at the top of the scale from $78,000 to $85,233.

“This is a 9.3% increase for the majority of secondary school teachers.”

Other concerns such as workload, wellbeing and recruitment, were being addressed outside the bargaining process.

The majority of teachers (57 per cent) were paid more than the base scale, in the form of management units, for taking on extra responsibilities.

Earlier today, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the PPTA’s 15 per cent pay claim was “out of the ballpark”.

Hipkins, who spoke at the PPTA conference today, appeared to be trying to manage expectations when he told delegates that there were huge deficits across many areas that the Government was trying to fix.

“We do want to spend more on education. But we can’t make up for nine years of educational and wider social neglect in one Budget, or even one term of government. I think all of you know that,” he said.

The Government would look at how it could “reshape the offer” but the Government did not have an unlimited supply of money and was “stretching the envelope already”, Hipkins told reporters afterwards.

National’s education spokeswoman Nikki Kaye said it was not possible for the Government to cry poor when it was putting $2.8 billion into tertiary students, hundreds of millions into diplomats and funding into regional development. It needed to be upfront about the breakdown of the teachers’ package.

“We do understand the flow-on effect to other public sector workers but I don’t believe the Government has been transparent enough about the numbers,” she said.

PPTA key claims

  • A pay rise of 15 per cent for a one-year term, taking the top of the pay scale to $89,700 and entry rate to $58,800, plus additional annual increases of 3.8 per cent.
  • Access to an accommodation allowance of a maximum $100 per week for teachers in areas with rents 110 per cent higher than the national median rental price.
  • Management salary units to increase from $4000 to $6000
  • Middle management and senior management allowances rise from $1000 to $1500.
  • Non-contact time to increase from five to six hours for all full-time teachers.
  • Non-contact time to increase by another hour for middle leaders

Source: NZ Herald

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