Teachers dispute breakthrough: Government, unions agree on revised offer

After a week of talks behind closed doors, the teachers' unions and the Government have agreed on an employment offer to take back to union members.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said at a press conference in Wellington on Friday that both primary and secondary teachers' unions have indicated there will be no further industrial action. 

The revised offer is worth more than $1.4 billion - an extra $271 million - and restores pay parity for primary and secondary teachers. 

It'll now be up to union members to decide whether they accept the revised offer. Both unions have recommend their members accept the offer.

Hipkins said it has always been the Government's objective to sort pay parity between primary and secondary teachers. He said it "became a bigger issue in these negotiations and it made sense to bring it forward and get it sorted". 

The new offer is described as "significantly larger than previous offers" by the New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI), and the Post Primary Teachers' Association (PPTA) said it's "pleased" to take the offer back to its members.

Both primary and secondary teachers across the country have been embroiled in an employment dispute, calling for better pay and work conditions. That culminated in 50,000 teachers across the country taking part in a joint "mega-strike" two weeks ago.

Two days after the strike, the Education Minister announced he would personally meet with the leadership of both the primary and secondary unions, as well as the Ministry of Education.

For the past week, the unions have been in intense negotiations with the ministry, saying little publicly while a fresh offer is worked out.

In May, the minister was emphatic that there would be no "more money into [teachers'] pockets].

This week he wouldn't rule out finding more money for teachers, saying the Government agrees with the New Zealand public that teachers should be paid more.

But the Government's stumped up an extra $271 million by dipping into underspends from the Communities of Learning Programme.

The offers:

  • For primary school teachers, the median pay increase would be $14,500 if they accept the offer.
  • Secondary teachers will receive annual pay increases of 3 percent, as well as increases to the number of management units and middle and senior management allowances.
  • Members of both unions will also get a lump sum payment of $1500.