It’s good news for teachers, parents and students that the Government has buckled under pressure and backed down by proposing significantly more cash, now close to $1.5 billion for teachers, with the unions indicating a potential settlement subject to teachers ratifying this, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“National believes the offer is a significant improvement and we hope teachers can ratify this. We understand that while there are shifts on remuneration there will be some teachers who will be disappointed around the ‘accord’ which appears to not provide concrete funded initiatives to address workload issues. We will continue to advocate on these issues.
“Education Minister Chris Hipkins is in maximum spin mode on how he’s found more money, claiming this is through savings via communities of learning and the fact that, somehow, the idea of a three year agreement is new.
“Pay parity is important for many teachers as are increases in management units and it is important we ensure they get the recognition for the work that they do. This has always been possible as part of the discussions and it will be interesting to see if release time is part of this deal.
“The Government has been weak and incompetent at every level in the way it has handled what have been long, drawn out, negotiations. These negotiations have gone on for more than a year for some teachers, with multiple days of strikes, including the mega strike the day before the Botched Budget. These delays have cost teachers and parents and have been hugely frustrating for everyone.
“The Prime Minister and Mr Hipkins have stubbornly said there is ‘no more money’. But the truth is they can miraculously find hundreds of millions of dollars when it suits them for trees and planes. Now, because of the pressure the Minister is under, he can find an extra $271 million for teachers too.
“Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters coming out and claiming there was an announcement yesterday, while negotiations were still undergoing, was irresponsible and unhelpful. He should not have done this and it was a mistake.
“Resolving workload issues in the future is crucially important. We know many teachers have made clear this is not just about pay. Reducing workload could be through the implementation of NCEA, or reducing teacher ratios and class sizes in primary schools, which National has committed to.
“The Government has a track record of failing to deliver. Yesterday it was revealed the Government hasn’t finalised the role and policy for the 600 Learning Support Facilitators which are important for helping children with complex needs and reducing workload for teachers.
“National knows teachers have felt let down due to the number of promises the Government has broken, we’ve highlighted the sheer number through our report card on Labour.
“While we are optimistic there will be ratification but we respect the important right of teachers to make the final decision on this offer. We do believe it is important to give them the space to consider these issues.”