Primary teachers demand more money

Education Minister Chris Hipkins. Photo: RNZ/Richard Tindiller.

A significant gap still remains between the $700 million pay increase offered to primary school teachers and the union’s bid for $2.5 billion.

The Employment Relations Authority says the New Zealand Educational Institute’s (NZEI) bid for $2.5 billion more pay for teachers over for years is completely unrealistic.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins says the authority describes the governments offer as handsome and competitive.

The Ministry of Education’s latest pay offer is $129 million more than the previous offer made in September, however primary teachers and principals have rejected the offer as they say their profession is at ‘breaking point’.

NZEI president Lynda Stuart says the ministry’s latest offer doesn’t address problems with workloads, release and leadership time and difficulties attracting and retaining teachers.

“There's a real crisis in education at the moment. We're not growing our own New Zealand teachers and we're not keeping our New Zealand teachers.”

Chris says a couple of hundred teachers were employed from overseas last year, in order for schools to fill staff vacancies.

"We've put quite a lot of effort into that in the last 18 months and we're seeing those numbers turning around."

They're raising some very legitimate issues, but no government is going to be able to address those overnight."

Chris says the union’s requests for more teacher release time could not be fulfilled while the teacher shortage existed, simply because there were not enough staff to cover.

He says the pay offer would provide an extra $10,000 on average per year for a primary school teacher.

Lynda says teachers and principles were not ‘hanging out to strike’; they will like to continue with negotiations until a deal is reached.

-Additional reporting by RNZ

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