17 Apr 2023

Government offers primary school teachers new pay deal

9:13 pm on 17 April 2023

The offer will mean teachers at the top of the salary scale would earn $100,000 by December next year, the Ministry of Education says. (file picture) Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

The government has gone back to primary school teachers with a third deal which promises pay rises of between 11-14 percent over three years.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) and union signed the agreed terms of settlement on Monday, after the country's largest ever education strike in March.

MOE employment relations general manager Mark Williamson said the offer would mean teachers at the top of the salary scale would earn $100,000 by December next year, an increase of about 11 percent.

"The bottom of the scale will move from $51,358 to $55,358 immediately, then $58,505 by 2 December 2024 - an increase of 13.92 percent."

The offer also contained changes involving working conditions, such as increases to sick leave entitlements.

"After one year, a teacher who has started in a primary school will be entitled to 40 days of sick leave, compared to 31 currently - a 29 percent increase," Williamson said.

"Extra classroom release time would be phased in from Term 3 of the 2024 school year, so that by Term 3 of 2025, teachers will have at least a day a fortnight away from the classroom for planning, preparation, assessment and reporting - more than double what they have currently."

Ōpōtiki College resource teacher Paeone Goonan said the introduction of cultural leadership allowances and the increase to the Māori immersion teaching allowance were historic improvements.

"I'm really excited about the cultural leadership allowances because that is an acknowledgement of the skills and expertise of those kaiako and their culture," Goonan said.

"Those teachers are doing the mahi anyway; we've got the Aotearoa Histories happening in schools now, and all those who teach kapa haka, but they weren't being acknowledged for it."

The New Zealand Educational Institute said primary teachers would vote on the deal early in Term 2.

Negotiating team leader Barb Curran said while the offer did not include everything the union had asked for, and some of the proposed changes would not kick in immediately, it seemed reasonable given the current economic climate.

"In terms of the issues that our members have said are the most important around workload, and around their need for time to do the job, and in terms of being able to attract and retain people in the profession, something has been done towards all of those issues," Curran said.

"Ultimately, our members will make the decision when they look at the offer in its totality, and also in conjunction with the announcement that the prime minister made today about an advisory group to look at class sizes."

The proposed deal would involve progressive increases to base salaries, with the first backdated to December, and two further hikes within the three-year term.

"The first year, so back to the first of December 2022, is a $4000 flat increase to our current rate," Curran said.

"The second year, which would be December 2023, is either a $2000 increase or 3 percent, whichever is higher."

The final increase in December 2024 would vary between 2 percent and 3.3 percent, she said.

With annual inflation currently remaining at 7.2 percent, the proposed increases would not see teachers' pay keeping up with increases to the cost of living.

The deal showed similarities to another offered to kindergarten teachers earlier this month.

So far, only secondary school principals and the minority of primary principals represented by a union set up by the Principals Federation had ratified the MOE's pay offers.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs