Q. In feedback on the third offer for primary teachers, pay was one the biggest issues of concern, with many saying the pay offer did not meet expectations. What changes to pay are there in the new offer?
A. There are a number of changes.
Firstly, the term of the agreement has been reduced, it is now a two-year term from 3 July 2023 – 2 July 2025. That means the proposed pay increase is over 24 months instead of 36 months.
One benefit of the new offer would be that we will be renegotiating the next collective agreement 12 months earlier than under the previous offer. The length of the agreement is important because it dictates how quickly we can return to bargaining for further pay increases.
The pay increases are in three steps with some changes from the last offer.
The first increase from June this year is either $4000 or 6% (whichever is the largest). This means that the new offer provides for higher pay increases in the first year than the last offer for teachers on steps 7 or above on the pay scale.
The second increase would be on 3 July 2024, and is 3%. This is an improvement for people at the top of the scale but is slightly worse than the previous offer for the lower steps.
The third pay increase comes 6 months later in Dec 2024. This pay increase varies in percentage from 1.8% – 6.5% but it will lift salaries to the same level as the previous offer (with the top step increasing to $100,000). The one exception is that the bottom step of the scale will be removed – lifting the starting salary of beginning teachers to $60,735. The total increase in year 2 of the offer is therefore, 4.28% to 9.75%.
The previous offer backdated the first pay increase to Dec 2022. That was worth about $2000 for a full-time teacher. In the new offer the pay increase is now from 3 July this year, but there is a lump sum of $4500. This figure is more than the backpay in the previous offer and for some members, dependent on where you sit on the pay scale, it may work out to be the same as backpay to July 2022.
$1,500 of this lump sum is for union members only, non-members will receive $3,000. That lump sum is pro-rated for part time and relieving teachers.
The previous offer included a member-only lump sum of $710, this lump sum will also still be paid to union members only.
Overall, the improvements in pay in the new offer are frontloaded, which means that most of the significant changes to pay (and the lump sum payments) happen at the start of the new Collective Agreement.
Q. In the previous offer the implementation times for the new classroom release time were pushed out. Has this changed in the new offer?
A. The increases to classroom release time from 10 hours per term to 25 hours per term are still in this offer. The timeframes for introducing this have improved from the last offer.
The increases will be introduced in three stages: 5 hours from the start of 2024, another five hours from mid-2024 and a further five hours from the start of 2025. This means the new classroom release entitlements will be fully introduced six months earlier than in the last offer.
MEMBER ONLY BENEFIT
Q. How is the positive contribution of union membership to our school system being recognised?
A. In the last offer there was a member-only lump sum payment of $710 for all members. The new offer also includes an extra lump sum payment for members of $4500, which for some members is effectively back pay as far as July 2022.
Teachers who are non-members will only receive a lump sum payment of $3000. In other words, members will receive up to $2,210 more in lump sum payments than non-members.
Members will also move to the new rates of pay six weeks earlier than non-members.
WHY HAS THE STRIKE BEEN CALLED OFF?
The decision to strike was made by PTCA members at the time the third offer was rejected. The goal of strike action was to exert political pressure on the Government to make an improved offer.
The fact that primary teachers made the decision to strike had an immediate impact as the Minister of Education Jan Tinetti and Finance Minister Grant Robertson became involved. A new offer has been tabled as a result of these high-level discussions.
Whether the offer is sufficient to meet members’ expectations is up to members to decide. There is no recommendation to accept or reject the offer.
WHAT IS THE POINT OF THE PAID UNION MEETINGS?
The reason for calling the paid union meetings is to enable teachers to have a conversation about the new offer to settle the Collective Agreement. Voting on the offer will commence shortly after the paid union meetings have finished, so it is important that teachers have an opportunity to read the offer and to have a chance to talk together and the implications of accepting or rejecting it.
WHAT ABOUT RELIEVERS – CAN THEY ATTEND A MEETING TO DISCUSS THE OFFER?
There will be a reliever-specific hui to discuss the offer(s). This will be on 31 May 2023 at 5 pm.
Of course, relievers can also reach out to the school they relieve at and attend that hui instead.
WHAT ARE THE NEW LUMP SUM PAYMENTS ABOUT?
There will be two lump sum payments. One lump-sum payment is to help address the most urgent cost of living pressures. It is $4,500 for members and $3,000 for non-members. These are prorated for relievers or part-time teachers.
Members of NZEI Te Riu Roa will additionally get a $710 payment to help with the cost of Teaching Council fees. This lump sum payment is not prorated.
This offer differs from the previous offer. In the previous offer the first pay increase was backdated to Dec 2022. This was worth approximately $2000 for a full-time teacher. This offer does not have the back pay, instead a full-time teacher will receive a lump sum payment of $4500. All lump sum payments will be taxed. This is unavoidable as it is income.
HOW WILL THE PRORATING OF THE LUMP SUM PAYMENTS WORK?
Part-time teachers will get their lump sum pro-rated payments based on their full-time teacher equivalent. Short-term relievers will be pro-rated based on their total working days between start of term 4 2022 and ratification. Teachers on parental leave will be entitled to the lump sum providing they return to work before the start of term 1 2025.
The $710 lump sum payment will not be prorated.
WHAT DOES OUR NATIONAL EXECUTIVE AND THE BARGAINING TEAM THINK OF THE OFFER?
Given the high-level negotiations, the member leaders on National Executive and the bargaining team felt that the offer needed to be presented to members for them to make a call on. There is no recommendation to members to either reject or accept the offer.
WHAT HAPPENS IF WE DON’T ACCEPT THE OFFER?
Teachers would be re-balloted on strike action. Feedback from previous surveys indicates that members favour full day strikes over other forms of industrial action, so the ballot would be for full day strikes. It is clear that members would need to intensify industrial action to win a better offer.
WHY IS THERE NO IMPROVEMENT IN THE SPECIAL DUTIES INCREMENT ALLOWANCE?
This issue has been raised as a claim and as an important issue that needs to be addressed. However, the new offer does not contain any improvements in these areas. Members will undoubtedly factor this into their decision making about the offer in much in the same way as they will consider the areas where improvements have been made.
WHEN THE LAST OFFER WAS MADE, IT WAS MADE CLEAR TO US THAT INQUIRY TIME FOR KĀHUI AKO WILL BE DISESTABLISHED. HOWEVER, I CANNOT SEE THIS IN THE OFFER DOCUMENTS. DOES THAT MEAN THAT INQUIRY TIME WILL STAY?
No. Inquiry time is not a feature of the Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement which is why it is not mentioned in the offer. However, it is clear from our discussions at the negotiation table that the government still intends to get rid of inquiry time and the Staffing Order will be amended accordingly.
IT IS UNFAIR THAT THE UNITS IN PRIMARY ARE STILL LOWER THAN THEY ARE IN SECONDARY. WHY IS THIS THE CASE?
The bargaining team also feels that the difference in unit values is unfair, and we have made this clear in all the different bargaining settings that we have participated in over the past months. However, all that could be achieved was a move towards parity by increasing unit values to $4,500. The good news is that this partial move towards having the same unit values will now happen in term 1 of 2024 instead of term 3, 2024. In addition, the Ministry has agreed that any increases in unit values offered to teachers in other parts of the sector will also be offered to NZEI Te Riu Roa members.