Local teachers are mostly satisfied with the government’s revised offer for teachers, but there is still a long way to go, says local teacher Stacey Ashley.
The largest-ever teacher strike saw both primary and secondary school teachers withdraw their services on June 4.
Over 50,000 members across two unions decided to strike, after rejecting previous offers made by the Government.
The aim of the strike was for the government to spend more money on improving teaching conditions, more staff and more release time.
The new offer made by the government includes a pay increase for all teachers, as well as pay parity between primary teachers and secondary teachers.
The offer includes a lump sum of $1500 for union members and a new top salary rate of $90,000.
If accepted, primary school teachers will see their base salary increase, with a range of $52,429-$82,992, depending on experience and qualifications.
This is a big increase, as the base rate range currently sits from $47,980 to $71,891.
Teachers with further responsibilities, like specialised roles or management, receive extra payment above the base salary.
A new teacher’s salary would rise from $51,200 to $55,948 by 2021.
While the pay increase is a big positive, teachers are still concerned about workload and release time.
“A lot of what we wanted was to reduce the workload. While it hasn’t come through yet, the increase in the pay will hopefully bring more teachers in to the profession and get them to stay,” says NZEI Primary Lead Teacher for Nelson, Stacey Ashley.
Stacey says that teachers hope that will go a long way towards easing workload and giving them more release time.
“Teachers are struggling, working all the time. I’ve seen teachers hospitalised because of stress.”
Teachers say that while the government’s offer isn’t exactly what they were asking for, it is a good first step and holds lots of goodwill.
“We were really asking for more support, but the pay increase is a way to get more teachers in the pool and lift morale. Some beginner teachers are holding down three jobs just for the privilege of teaching, so that will take huge stress off.”
While the pay increase will help, the accord given alongside the new offer promises that the issues around workload and release time are being listened to.
“It can’t all be done at once, but hopefully it will have a flow-on effect.”
Stacey says teachers are feeling good about the offer, with the pay increase seen as an offer of goodwill.
“We have faith that the pay increase will be followed up with more resources and more release time to ease the workload.”
While there is still a ways to go, Stacey says that the government’s latest offer is a good start.
“We’ve got stage one, now we just need to make sure those issues about teacher well-being are addressed.”