Teacher claims checkout operators paid the same, without the stress

It's been claimed teachers work such long hours they would be paid better if they quit and became checkout operators.

Honor Petrie, a secondary school teacher from Christchurch, wrote into The AM Show to explain just why many people who go into teaching find themselves wanting out just a few years later.

"Five years ago I came into teaching as an over-qualified 29-year-old with a huge amount of experience working in health and wellbeing," she wrote in an email, read out on-air by host Duncan Garner.

"When moving into teaching, I knew my annual income would decrease. The happiness and fulfilment of sharing knowledge and shaping young New Zealanders' lives outweighed the financial value at the time.

"Once I began teaching I was employed in middle management within the school as a dean in the first year - the increase in pay was $4000.

"The hours I was working as a teacher, let alone a dean and a voluntary sports coach, was absolutely crazy... I could have worked the same hours as a checkout operator in a supermarket, or even an assistant, and made the same money, without the stress of being of being involved in the school.

"Now I have a mortgage, a husband and a baby on the way. Over time I've moved up the pay scale, however my husband and I have started a construction business to ensure that we can live a lifestyle we truly deserve and so we can ensure that we can give our child a good life.

"Teaching no longer gives that."

Primary school teachers across the country will go on strike on August 15, arguing for not just better pay, but more staff and better working conditions.

A checkout operator on minimum wage would earn about $34,320 a year, working 40 hours a week.

Beginner teachers with a degree earn at least $47,980, according to the Ministry of Education. For a checkout operator to earn that, they'd need to work 56 hours a week.