Primary teachers and principals reject latest pay offers

Primary teachers and principals have rejected the latest employment offers from the Ministry of Education.

New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) Te Riu Roa members took part in a secret ballot which closed on Tuesday night. 

The move to reject the offer puts strike action back on the table, two months on from a nationwide strike in August.

"Teachers and principals are saying that they are disappointed by the Government's failure to deliver and they are resolute in their determination," NZEI Te Riu Roa President Lynda Stuart said.

"The Government keeps saying we have to be patient, and they can't fix everything at once, but the teacher shortage is at crisis point. If you think it's expensive trying to fix a crisis, just wait to see how hard it is to turn around a disaster. In the meantime, our students' learning suffers when we can’t even find relievers to cover for sick teachers."

Primary teachers and principals' next moves will be decided at the NZEI Annual Conference in Rotorua this weekend. If strike action is recommended, members will vote early next term on whether to take it. 

The latest three-year collective agreement for teachers included an increase to base salaries by 3 percent each year.

For principals, it included an annual 3 percent base salary increase for those at schools with more than 100 students, and a 4.5 percent increase in 2018 and 2019 and 4.4 percent in 2020 for those with less than 100 students, but no provisions to address workloads.

The union said the agreements offered no extra funding to support children with additional learning needs such as funding a Special Education Needs Coordinator role (SENCO) in each school. It also said there were no provisions for reducing workloads or class sizes.

A nationwide teachers' strike in mid-August that saw 29,000 educators stop work for 24 hours in protest over pay and working conditions. It was the first strike of its kind in 24 years.