Primary teachers accept their fourth offer, but not everyone is happy

Primary teachers have voted to accept the Ministry’s fourth offer, though some long-time members aren’t happy about the agreement.

After almost a year of bargaining, primary teachers represented by NZEI Te Riu Roa have voted to accept the fourth offer made by the Ministry of Education, a decision which has surprised some. 

Aspects of the offer have been described as “big wins” by the NZEI Te Riu Roa executive, with President Mark Potter pointing toward the doubling of classroom release time. 

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Increases to the Māori immersion allowance and the introduction of a Pasifika bilingual immersion teaching allowance were also characterised as historic gains by the union.  

However, despite the results of the member-vote, some members are surprised at the outcome, and unhappy with the new offer.  

Just days before the vote, primary and secondary educators spoke to media about the latest offer. One primary teacher, Joseph Tobin, spoke to Morning Report about why he planned on voting down the offer.  

“I’m not interested in money. This offer is all about pay, that’s all I’m hearing about at the moment. If we were promised all the support our kids need and given all the resources our kids need, I’d vote yes immediately with no pay rise for us at the top of the scale.” 

Some educators concur. On NZEI’s Facebook announcement regarding the vote, one member asked “is there going to be more support for our tamariki… I don’t recall any extra supports/funding for the children in the latest offer.”  

Another reads: “What about addressing workload and classroom support? There doesn’t seem to be anything about additional support for diverse learning and behavioural needs or the increasing expectation of extracurricular involvement and paperwork. Money is nice and all but not at the expense of working conditions and work life balance.” 

Others wanted to see the results of the vote, with one member insisting “as members we have the right to see [the voting figures].”  

Some were also upset that non-members were given the opportunity to sign up before 12 June to receive the member-only benefits. One commenter called it “a slap in the face to all members who lost pay through striking.”  

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Yet other commentators believed that the offer wouldn’t have been accepted if not for the pay-parity agreement with the secondary sector. PPTA Te Wehengarua continues their strike action after rejecting their fourth offer, which is broadly in-line with the one primary educators accepted.  

However, although there were many who expressed disappointment with the outcome, other members seemed satisfied.  

“Thank you so much for your negotiations! I am impressed with what you have achieved, and pleased you realise that NEGOTIATION = COMPROMISE,” said one commenter. Others noted that it was a “difficult climate to negotiate in given the multitude of other things happening in our country. And worth remembering if there is a change in govt we will be negotiating with people who believe in performance pay, charter schools, private education and that teachers are actually not doing their jobs properly.”  

Meanwhile, area teachers remain in limbo as PPTA Te Wehengarua must settle with the government before they are covered by collective agreements.   

Naomii Seah

Naomii Seah is a writer and journalist from Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. She enjoys crochet, painting, and a coffee or two at the beach. Her work can be found at The Spinoff, The Pantograph Punch, Stuff, and of course, School News NZ.
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