Hipkins trying to resolve teacher pay dispute

Teachers had their biggest strike ever this week, protesting over what they claim are insufficient wage increases. Minister of education Chris Hipkins spoke to the crowd of teachers who gathered at Parliament, saying there was no more money available. Teachers responded by threatening more strikes.

Hipkins is now trying to resolve the deadlock.

RNZ: Minister intervenes in teachers’ pay dispute, calls forum

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has called for a forum with the teacher unions, the NZEI and PPTA, to resolve what he calls an impasse over pay and conditions.

Secondary school teachers will start five weeks of industrial action on Tuesday when they refuse to teach students in year nine. The action comes hard on the heels of this week’s joint strike with primary teachers.

In a release tonight, Mr Hipkins said the government was committed to progressively taking action to address the concerns of teachers and principals.

The talks were set down for 6 June.

“The issues being raised by teachers are many, varied and complex,” he said in tonight’s statement.

“We will make no further comment until after the parties have met.”

The primary teachers’ union has yet to announce its next move, but it has already held three strikes and further action is considered likely.

One problem that is probably unresolvable is pay scales that don’t reflect effort and effectiveness. Teachers claim they work long hours, and I’m sure some do, but they get paid the same as teachers with similar a length of service who do the bare minimum.

Teacher unions have always been strongly against performance linked pay rates.

This can mean that better teachers can leave to find better paid work elsewhere, while more mediocre teachers stay with fairly good pay for their efforts (but there are still good teachers who are underpaid).

When he was opposition spokesperson on education Hipkins had an easy ride on the side of teachers complaining about the National government. It is a lot more challenging for Hipkins now that he is up against teacher demands.