Yay the message gets through

I’ve twice blogged on how the OECD teacher pay stats actually show teachers are paid more generously in NZ, than most other countries, when you take GDP/capita into account. Our problem is the overall wealth of the country – not what proportion we spend on education.

Both Kerre Woodham and the HoS editorial pick up on this point.

Kerre writes:

Teachers claim they are poorly paid in comparison to other countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). David Farrar of Kiwiblog makes the point that we’re all poorly paid in comparison to other countries. It’s because we don’t earn as much as everyone else. It’s all about gross domestic product (GDP).

When you do the sums, as Farrar did, New Zealand teachers get paid more than almost every other country in the OECD compared to GDP per capita. They certainly get paid far more than the median wage – as well they should.

And you know what – if the unions would agree to performance pay, I’d be the first person to be advocating big pay rises for the good teachers – the top ones should be on $100,000.

The HoS editorial:

The problem is that the Government is not short of priority issues right now: recovering from the biggest economic meltdown in living memory and funding recovery from an earthquake that has upended life for about half the people in the South Island are two that spring to mind.

This is not to say that the teachers’ claims are without merit. And plainly the Ministry of Education recognises that, since many of them have been conceded, in whole or in part.

Others, including an increase in the employer contribution to members’ Kiwisaver funds and a 4 per cent wage claim while other wage settlements (and the inflation rate) are running at less than 2 per cent, look remarkably like the demands of a sector out of touch with reality.

Remember that the Government is running a huge fiscal deficit. Every dollar more of government spending has to be borrowed, and will be a burden on today’s kids who will have to pay it back.

The plain fact is that the average secondary teacher salary is now more than $71,000 or $1365 a week. It has risen since 2000 by more than 45 per cent – almost twice as fast as wages in the public sector as a whole (24 per cent) and the private sector (25.3 per cent).

It is provocative but misleading for teachers to compare pay rates with colleagues internationally: salaries have to be reckoned against GDP per capita for international comparisons to be meaningful – that’s why our teachers earn 82 per cent less than their Luxembourg counterparts. And our spending on non-tertiary education is the same as or higher than the OECD average in terms of GDP.

And the solution, as I have said before, is to increase our national wealth. And the way you do that is not big pay increases for doing the same job. It is by improving our productivity.

To put it bluntly, teachers need to stop disrupting the lives of students so close to end-of-year exams, prioritise their demands and get back to the bargaining table. They got 4 per cent last year and 4 per cent the year before. Parents and everyone else may take the view that teachers aren’t doing too badly.

Who else has had a 45% increase in their salary since 2000? And I don’t mean through promotions – I mean for doing the same job?

Comments (49)

Login to comment or vote

Add a Comment