9 Nov 2018

Primary teacher strikes to go ahead as last-ditch offer fails

6:24 pm on 9 November 2018

A last-ditch offer from the Education Ministry has failed to avert next week's strikes by primary teachers and principals.

Teachers and principals march in Auckland to push for a better deal from the Ministry of Education.

In August, teachers and principals marched to push for a better deal from the Ministry of Education in Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

New Zealand Education Institute (NZEI) president Lynda Stuart said the Ministry made the offer yesterday afternoon after a week of bargaining facilitated by the Employment Relations Authority.

She said it removed the $63,929 upper limit on pay rates for teachers with diplomas and moved it to $82,992 by 2020, the same top rate as teachers with degrees.

The top rate for those with graduate diplomas and masters degrees would rise to $85,481 by 2020.

Ms Stuart said its members would discuss the offer and vote later this month on whether to accept or reject it.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said he was disappointed the teacher union decided to push ahead with strike action.

Mr Hipkins said teachers were not even given the opportunity to vote on the latest offer before the union dismissed it.

"The latest offer that the government has made is it. There's not going to be any more money, so they can choose to accept the offer, they can ask for the offer to be reconfigured, but striking in the hope that more money will eventuate is going to lead to disappointment."

Secretary for Education Iona Holsted said the revised offer was worth $698 million over four years.

"That's an increase of $129 million from the previous offer. It means that most teachers would get between $9500 - $11,000 extra annually in their pay packets by 2020. The offer also provides for additional progression on the pay scale," she said.

Ms Holsted said the offer also took into account the government's recent announcement of $217m over four years for 600 new learning support coordinator roles, which the NZEI had asked for.

"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."

The union's members in Auckland are set to strike on Monday, followed by those in other parts of the country throughout next week.

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