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Collective Agreements

Fourth offer for primary teachers accepted – FAQs

08 Jun 2023

Here is information for primary teachers about the recently accepted fourth offer from the Government and information for area school teachers.

How will the prorating of the lump sums work for primary teachers?

The $3,000 and $1,500 lump sum payments will be prorated in much the same way:

Full-time teachers as of the date of ratification (likely to be 12 June 2023) will get the full amounts. Part-time teachers will get the lump sum payments prorated based on their FTTE as of the date of ratification. In other words, if you are employed for 0.4 FTTE, you will get 40% of the full amounts.

Short term relievers will get their lump sum prorated based on the proportion of available school days that they have worked between the start of term 4, 2022 and the date of ratification. In other words, if you have worked 40% of all available school days, you would get 40% of the full amounts. 

Please note that short term relievers will need to have worked at least one day of day relief in 2023 to be eligible. You can receive the lump sum under more than one category i.e. because you work part-time and relieve occasionally. In that case, your lump sum payments would be calculated both on your part-time job (FTTE) and on the relief work you have done between Term 4 last year and the date of ratification (likely 12 June 2023). 

When you qualify for the lump sum payments under multiple categories you can however never receive more than the full amounts that are payable to full-time teachers. As an example, this means that anyone who is employed full-time at the date of ratification but who was relieving in term 1, would simply get the full amount of the lump sum payments and nothing extra for the relieving they did earlier in the year.

When working out the prorated amounts of the lump sum payments for relievers, all categories of work between term 4 2022 and the date of ratification will be considered (including work under the Secondary Teachers’ CA or the Area School Teachers CA). 

So, if you worked as a short-term reliever in term 4, 2022 and then worked full-time in term 1 on a fixed term contract and then you went relieving again in term 2, all of this work should be factored in when the prorated amount is calculated. 

The $710 lump sum payment is not prorated – even for relievers. Relievers just need to have worked at least one day of day relief teaching in 2023 up to 12 June 2023.

How will the lump sums work for primary teachers if I am on leave on the date of ratification?

If you are on parental leave on the date of ratification, you have until Term 1 2025 to return to preserve your eligibility. Since the Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement provides for up to 78 weeks of parental leave, no primary teachers should thus be ineligible for the lump sum payments because they took parental leave. If you are on a different form of leave, you must return before the end of term 1, 2024 to be eligible for the lump sum payments.

When will the lump sum payments be made to members?

The Terms of Settlement specify that the lump sum payments will be made by 26 July 2023. We expect that payment will be made in pay period 9 (pay day 25 July).

Is the $710 lump sum payment made to members or to the Teaching Council?

It is made to members. The amount has just been chosen by the Ministry because it will be sufficient to pay for the Teaching Council fees even though the lump sum payment attracts tax. 

When will the pay increases be implemented?

Under the Terms of Settlement, Education Payroll have until 6 September 2023 to implement the rest of the settlement (other than the lump sum payments). Of course, any pay increases would be backdated.

Will Speech Language Therapists and untrained employees who are employed under the Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement have access to all three lump sum payments?

Yes. The Ministry of Education has confirmed that the lump sum payments are accessible to all employee types under the Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement.

Why did non-members have until ratification date of 12 June 2023 to join and reap the member-only benefits?

Ratification is the process of formally finalising settlement of a collective agreement. When the offer was made, the Ministry of Education set 19 June as the date ratification had to be complete, or the offer would be withdrawn. During this time members needed to consider the offer. The formal ratification processes, which included balloting of members, had to be completed. We were able to conclude ratification a week ahead of this deadline, on 12 June.

Up until the point of ratification, a person joining will receive all the terms of a new agreement when it takes effect. Now that ratification is complete, teachers who join after 12 June but before 3 July, when the new agreement takes effect, will not receive member-only benefits.

Our primary teacher membership has grown significantly throughout this year. More teachers joined before the 16 March strike than since.

A significant proportion of those who have joined this year are new teachers or people who began or returned to teaching at a period when Covid-19 was effecting normal recruitment.

This increased membership adds to our power as a whole. It means that we can push hard for improvements for teachers, and it makes it very hard for the Government to ignore our loud voices.

We can not and would not turn away a teacher at any time who wants to join NZEI Te Riu Roa.

It is clear that there is unfinished work that needs to be done over the next years. In order to do this most effectively, it is crucial that the union continues to grow as this is central to how we achieve change that benefits members.  

The rapid growth in membership over the past weeks has shown that the settlement has been a very effective recruitment tool. These teachers have now seen the benefits of acting collectively in terms of pay, but also significant improvements to release time. For others, the cost of living crisis has impacted on their decisions about union membership, but they now see it as more affordable to be a union member.

However, teachers reach their decision to join NZEI Te Riu Roa, it benefits all members as their contribution will make a real difference as we continue our work together.  

If I join NZEI Te Riu Roa between the date of ratification and the date the new Collective Agreement comes into effect, will I get the member-only benefits?

No. You needed to be a member of NZEI Te Riu Roa by 12 June 2023 to be eligible for the member-only lump sum payments.

I am a board funded teacher. Will I still get the lump sum payments?

Yes. You will still be eligible for the lump sums according to the normal eligibility criteria. 

How can we have confidence that the result of the ballots are accurate? 

The ballots were independently run and verified by a company called Independent Election Services Ltd. This is why the voting emails also did not come from an NZEI Te Riu Roa email address.  

Why doesn’t NZEI Te Riu Roa release the percentages of the ballots? 

NZEI Te Riu Roa does not release the percentages of any ratification or strike ballots as a matter of general policy. This is independent of how close or how narrow a result may be. This is for strategic reasons as it does not serve members’ interests to disclose to the Ministry of Education (or other employers in the case of ECE), for example, if there were divisions in the membership or how much the employer needed to move on a particular issue to make a certain outcome palatable to a majority of members. However, members can be assured that the decision to accept or reject an offer (or votes for or against any industrial actions or ratification of settlements) are made via a simple majority vote. 

Why didn’t the NZEI Te Riu Roa executive and Te Reo Areare make a recommendation like the PPTA did? 

As it is members who are impacted by the implications of accepting or rejecting an offer, the executive believe members are the ones who should make the decision. 

Where are the additional teachers needed for the classroom release time going to come from? 

The additional staffing that is needed to cater for the increased classroom release time is significant and exceeds 1,500 teachers. The requirement for more teachers will need to be met through an increased emphasis by the Ministry on recruitment of new teachers and people who have previously left the profession. 

One of the reasons teachers have been leaving the profession is because of excessive work demands. The increase in classroom release time is a significant win that can have a real impact on this.  Another part of the response will be made up by retaining teachers who may have previously been made redundant due to falling roll numbers in parts of the country. 

How do the parity clauses in the Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement work? 

There are three main clauses that are applicable: 

  • The base scale parity clause in the previous Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement has been renewed. This means that any increases to the Unified Base Salary Scale that could result out of other collective agreement negotiations for school teachers will be passed on to primary teachers.  
  • Secondly, there is a new provision in the Terms of Settlement that prevents the unit value of primary teachers to fall behind further. Any increases to unit values above $5,000 in other collective agreements must be passed on to primary teachers. In other words, if unit values in secondary increased by $200, the same $200 increase would be added to the primary teacher unit values. 
  • Thirdly, there is a new parity clause in the Terms of Settlement that covers learning support coordinators. Any additional employment conditions that are negotiated in other collective agreements must be offered to primary teachers as well. 

I disagree with the result of the ballot. Why couldn’t we stand up for a better outcome? 

It is up to members to vote on the offer to settle their collective agreements.  Members had the opportunity to discuss with each other in paid union meetings last Wednesday and then to make their decision. 

Members have decided to accept the offer to settle the Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement through a majority decision. There were legitimate reasons for doing so as the offer did contain significant improvements in many areas, notably the increases in classroom release time.   

There were also areas where we all collectively clearly have more work to do. But this is not at all unusual in collective bargaining. You will recall that in the last campaign in 2019, there were significant improvements to pay, but many of the issues related to working conditions and time to teach were not addressed in that settlement.  

There were also differing levels of support for further industrial action across the membership, which clearly would have been necessary to shift the offer further. Some people may have factored this into their decision on the offer. 

How can we push for more pay throughout the term of the agreement? 

NZEI Te Riu Roa has instigated a Mana Taurite | pay equity claim for teachers. This is an investigation-based process to address undervaluation of teachers’ work.  This work is underway and will continue to progress throughout the term of this Collective Agreement. We have seen the transformational impact of this process on the pay and valuing of teacher aides and school administrators. Addressing the undervaluation of teachers’ work on the basis of being predominantly performed by women is central to achieving truly fair remuneration.  

When can we start bargaining for the next Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement?

We can initiate bargaining for the next Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement on 3 May 2025 (60 days before the expiry of this new Collective Agreement). It is not possible to initiate bargaining for a new Collective Agreement earlier than this due to legal restrictions set out in the Employment Relations Act. However, the claims development process on our end will commence well before the initiation date, so we will be in touch asking what members want to see progressed in the next round of bargaining before May 2025.

What is happening for area school teachers? 

Area school teacher members of NZEI Te Riu Roa have also accepted their offer to settle the Area School Teachers’ Collective Agreement. However, they are in a different position to primary teachers, because the Area School Teachers’ Collective Agreement is a multi-union collective agreement that the PPTA Te Wehengarua is also a party to.  

Since the PPTA Te Wehengarua members covered by the Area School Teachers’ Collective Agreement have voted to reject the latest offer to settle the ASTCA, we will return to the negotiation table to try to work towards a mutually acceptable solution.

The industrial actions notified by the PPTA Te Wehengarua do not apply to members of NZEI Te Riu Roa.

Why is there nothing in the settlement about learning support? 

Teachers identified a set of priorities for this campaign: pay, time to teach, teacher/student ratios, learning support and Māori and Pasifika language teaching. Not all of these are issues can be addressed through collective agreement negotiations, but that does not mean we cannot win changes in other ways. Alongside negotiations, NZEI Te Riu Roa members have been campaigning through other channels, such as community and political advocacy. This work has been most effective when many members are actively involved. 

Specifically with the goal of improving resourcing for learning support, NZEI Te Riu Roa members have formed a coalition of teachers, principals, teacher aides, learning support specialists and parent organisations under the umbrella Ngā Aukaha. This campaign was instrumental in persuading the government to undertake the Highest Needs Review into learning support needs. Again, NZEI Te Riu Roa played a key part in coordinating responses to this review. We are now awaiting the announcement of the outcomes of this review. 

Another key piece of work related to learning support is the Teacher Aide Funding Review. NZEI Te Riu Roa fought for the establishment of this review as part of the teacher aide pay equity settlement. This review, which looks at how teacher aide funding can be reformed to provide more certainty for both teacher aides and tamariki and their whānau, is currently out for consultation, 

In addition to pushing for change in learning support, teachers and principals have lobbied Government MPS to make the case for lifting staffing levels in primary schools. This led to the announced changes to year 4-8 teacher to student ratios and the establishment of the Ministerial Advisory Group review of staffing levels. We will continue to work directly with the Minister, lobbying Government MPs in pursuit of staffing improvements. The upcoming election gives an opportunity to impress on all politicians the importance of addressing this.

What is the clause in the terms of settlement about “annual holidays changes” about?

There has not been any agreement to make any specific changes to the term breaks or the way teachers use annual leave. However, the Ministry of Education wants to have a conversation with us about Holidays Act compliance and annual leave provisions for teachers. We are open to having this conversation as it is important that our Collective Agreements are legislatively compliant. However, the wording in the Terms of Settlement is essentially an agreement to discuss things and to ensure statutory compliance.

The bargaining team is acutely aware of the fact that annual leave provisions have not been brought up by our members as part of member claims and members can be assured that we would talk to the membership before being able to agree to specific changes on such an important topic. Similarly, we know that it will be important for members to preserve the integrity of the term breaks. Neither the bargaining team nor the Ministry of Education has made any attempt to interfere with teachers’ use of the term breaks and the wording in the terms of settlement reflects this.