Hip­kins dis­par­ages teacher strike plan

The Northern Advocate - - Nation - Lucy Ben­nett

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Chris Hip­kins says he’s dis­ap­pointed the pri­mary teach­ers’ union has de­cided to go ahead with strikes next week without tak­ing the Gov­ern­ment’s lat­est of­fer to its mem­bers.

Pri­mary teach­ers and prin­ci­pals will go ahead with rolling re­gional strikes next week af­ter the NZ Ed­u­ca­tional In­sti­tute (NZEI) re­jected the of­fer worth close to $700 mil­lion over three years.

Mem­bers would con­sider the of­fer at meet­ings dur­ing the strikes.

Hip­kins said the lat­est of­fer would give the ma­jor­ity of teach­ers a pay rise of close to $10,000 over three years.

“The new of­fer is worth $698 mil­lion, an in­crease of $129 mil­lion from the pre­vi­ous of­fer.

The new of­fer would mean sig­nif­i­cant pay in­creases for their mem­bers and an of­fer to pro­vide for paid meet­ings to dis­cuss the of­fer,” Hip­kins said.

“NZEI let their mem­bers down by not al­low­ing them to con­sider the new of­fer be­fore go­ing on strike.

“They should stop the strike and al­low a vote,” he said.

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.

“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 prof es­sional 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.

Hip­kins said the Gov­ern­ment had been work­ing “in­cred­i­bly hard” to ad­dress teach­ers’ con­cerns and would far rather be talk­ing to them than see­ing strike ac­tion.

“We think that the strike ac­tion should cer­tainly be called off while they con­sider the new of­fer that’s been put for­ward.”

Hip­kins said the pro­posed pay rise ex­ceeded that of many other pro­fes­sions.

“I think that a $9500 pay rise is a pay rise that many other New Zealan­ders would cer­tainly ap­pre­ci­ate.”

Chris Hip­kins

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