Education Minister Chris Hipkins says the Government has no more money to offer primary school teachers who have voted to strike next week over pay.
The New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI), which represents about 30,000 primary teachers and principals, confirmed on Friday that members across the country would go on a week-long rolling strike starting Monday.
That was despite most primary teachers being offered an almost $10,000 salary increase under a proposed new deal, up from an almost $7000 increase put forward in the Government’s first offer, Hipkins said.
It is a generous offer. But the unions smell blood. They think Labour will blink again and concede some more taxpayer money, so they are striking despite being offered $10,000 a year more.
NZEI and the ministry entered facilitation last week, led by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).
The ERA released the outcome of those talks on Friday, saying it “strongly recommended” the union accept the ministry’s package, and that the Government had “clearly gone as far as it will go”.
Unusual for the ERA to be so explicit. It indicates NZEI is being unreasonable. But they will be betting that Labour will sweeten the offer more rather than endure more strikes and angry parents.
ERA facilitator James Crichton said talks between the two parties collapsed on Thursday night after the union rejected the ministry’s offer to fund a half-day of paid leave to enable consultation with teachers and principals.
“My prevailing impression of this facilitation is that NZEI came into the process with a series of proposals, which taken in their totality had an air of unreality about them.”
It’s the old tactic of ask for something outrageous so the compromise is more favourable. The Government should attack the NZEI for being so unreasonable, but they can’t afford to get offside with them, so they appease them.