By: Simon Collins

Primary teachers will go ahead with rolling regional strikes next week after teachers rejected the latest Government pay offer worth $700 million over three years.

The NZ Educational Institute (NZEI) said facilitation under the Employment Relations Authority ended yesterday and the strike meetings will consider new offers from the ministry and recommendations from the facilitator.

Striking primary principals and teachers will be rallying on more than 100 street corners in Auckland at 7.30am on Monday, and having mass meetings to consider the current situation later that day.

The ministry made a new offer to teachers yesterday, but did not move on its earlier offer to raise pay scales by 3 per cent a year for three years.

Its latest offer included a new top step and the partial removal of a cap on qualifications for some teachers from 2020.

NZEI president Lynda Stuart said the offers did not address union claims for lower class sizes and more professional time.

“The question is: will this address the crisis in education and the teacher shortage? What we asked for had children at the heart – for example more time to teach and smaller class sizes. This is something that our members now need to decide,” she said.

School communities were notified informally several weeks ago of the strike dates, but formal strike issues were issued late last night for Auckland.

Notices for other regions of the country that strike later next week will be issued today and Monday.

Stuart said members would carefully consider both the offer and any recommendations made by the facilitator at mass meetings being held during the strikes.

“The strike action still stands as the offer is not substantially different enough to give us the mandate to revoke the strike notice. We will give members the opportunity to consider the offer, any recommendations from the ERA, and next steps.”

The key elements of the new offer for teachers are:

  • 3 per cent per year over a three year term (unchanged).
  • No increase in classroom release time (unchanged).
  • A new top pay step for teachers with degrees plus professional teaching qualifications from 2020.
  • Removal of the qualifications cap on progression for teachers without degrees from 2020.
  • A $500 lump sum for NZEI members only.

Strikes will take place in Auckland on Monday, the rest of the North Island (except Wellington) on Tuesday, Christchurch on Wednesday, the rest of the South Island on Thursday, and Wellington on Friday.

Secretary of Education Iona Holsted said the ministry’s offer would give teachers $698 million over three years – $129m more than the previous offer.

“Most teachers would get between $9500 and $11,000 extra annually in their pay packets by 2020,” she said.

“The offer also provides for additional progression on the pay scale.

“Our offer took into account the large investment being made by the Government into learning support, including the recent announcement of $217m for 600 new learning support coordinator roles, which the NZEI has asked for as part of easing teacher workload and helping parents and children.

“We expected the NZEI Executive would have waited for the recommendations of the facilitator and given its members an opportunity to properly consider our new pay offer before deciding to go ahead with strikes.

Recommendations from the Employment Relations Authority will be available by the end of today.

“Settling pay negotiations with the NZEI is important and we have done all we can to reach agreement. We know strike action is disruptive for children’s learning and for parents.”

Source: NZ Herald

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