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.

Teachers strike, more to come

After large teacher strikes yesterday the Minister of Education said there was no more money available for teacher pays for now. Teachers have indicated strikes will continue.

RNZ: Teachers vow to strike again if govt doesn’t up its offer

They marched, they sang, and they shut down most of the country’s 2400 state and integrated schools, but it remains to be seen if today’s historic joint strike by primary, secondary and area school teachers has moved the government.

The joint action by nearly 50,000 members of the Educational Institute and the Post Primary Teachers Association was an attempt to persuade the government to expand the$1.2 billion envelope it has imposed on its offers to teachers.

But speaking to striking teachers in Wellington, the Education Minister, Chris Hipkins, stuck to the line he has consistently given – that the government is doing a lot to improve schools but it can’t do everything at once.

That did not go down well with the thousands of teachers gathered in front of the Beehive and Mr Hipkins retreated from the podium on Parliament’s forecourt to boos and chants of “not enough”.

Unless the budget comes up with something unexpected today it looks like teacher strikes will continue.

Student ‘strikes’ to protest climate change

The student strikes to raise awareness of the dangers to the planet of climate change have already been very successful. They have received a lot of publicity.

The protests will take place today around the country. I’m sure they will get a lot of media attention. More success guaranteed.

The big challenge for students who take part will be to make this more than an event. They somehow have to sustain the attention and pressure on politicians to actually make some sort of a difference in the medium term.

The media may or may not keep feeding the protests.

There were major protests against the TPPA, but they turned out to be ineffective while National were in Government (to an extent they were protests against the Government with the TPPA just a topical excuse. And those protests faded right away when Labour took over Government along with the Greens and NZ First, and when the TPPA morphed slightly into the CTPPA and took effect.

And that was quite a specific target.

Today’s protests seem very general, so it will be easy for politicians to make general nods of support whole doing little to make much difference.

Some young person on RNZ just said he read something from the UK that they are running out of fertile land in thirty years and faced starvation – I wonder if he realises that all the fertile land is not going to suddenly become unfertile. There are legitimate concerns about increasing population and growing demands for food, but food production is unlikely toi suddenly stall.

There has been months of build up, but students need to realise that there protests today are really a beginning, and not a solution.

Government challenged by teacher strikes

Jacinda Ardern criticised teachers for striking ‘too soon’, rearranged her diary in order to speak to a crowd of protesting teachers at Parliament, but one response from teachers was to follow up with a two day strike to keep the pressure on the Government.

Minister of Education Chris Hipkins, long a champion of teachers’ unions, seems out of his comfort zone under ‘friendly’ fire. Gezza commented:

From the comments he made in a sound bite on 1ewes last night, Hipkins sounded very disappointed and annoyed with the teachers at their protest outside Parliament that day, as though they were an ungrateful lot, and wondered if his testy attitude in this exchange showed that, while Ardern can hack it, he was feeling the pressure !

Stuff: Jacinda Ardern changes her mind, and meets teachers at Parliament

Jacinda Ardern watched the thousands of teachers “streaming” to Parliament to protest pay and conditions and decided she had to address them.

The prime minister had said this morning she was unavailable to meet the thousands of striking primary and intermediate teachers, but would be sending senior ministers.

But Ardern appeared, unscheduled, alongside Education Minister Chris Hipkins at the march and asked them for more time to solve their concerns

The education minister addressed the large crowd, acknowledging the tough decision many had made to be there.

“They are raising some raising some serious and legitimate concerns beyond pay to things like workload and the conditions they face in their schools.

“While he said the Government was listening “very carefully” to educators and their plight, however fronting additional money remained off the table.”

“I would prefer if we spent some time around the negotiating table working through all of the issues that teachers have raised before they start talking about more strike action.”

I’m sure Hipkins would prefer talking in private to teacher unions – this is just the opening round from primary school teachers, with secondary teachers likely to be lining up too for substantial pay rises.

Primary teachers are asking for a 16% increase.

Ardern tried to get onside ny playing the ‘care about children’ card:

Ardern said her motivation in politics was the welfare of children, the same thing that motivated most teachers.

“I don’t see them and us, I just see us.”

There is very much a them and us over wage negotiations.

Tracy Watkins: Will she, won’t she? PM Jacinda Ardern’s political gamble with teachers

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s decision to front the teacher unions as they marched on Parliament was supposedly a last minute change of heart.

She had earlier told Stuff she would not be available. But apparently Ardern was moved by the sight of thousands of people streaming through Parliament’s gate.

As a political gesture to placate some of those teachers, parents, and supporters who descended on Parliament to voice their anger, it probably worked.

But Ardern’s appeal to them as fellow members of a common cause may have jarred with some as a case of the Government talking out of both sides of its mouth.

Reading the placards, Ardern reminded the marchers she sympathised with their intent  – even while the Government has been talking tough on the teachers demands.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has all but labelled the teacher play claims as unreasonable and Ardern stoked the fires on Wednesday when she implied in an interview with Stuff that teachers had been too precipitous in launching strike action after just one round of negotiations.

But Ardern’s attempt to sweet talk the teachers doesn’t seem to have worked.

NZH: Teachers look for new pay offer to avert further strike

Primary teachers are looking for a new offer from the Government to stave off a potential two-day strike after a successful first strike today.

NZ Educational Institute lead negotiator Liam Rutherford said the union was willing to negotiate when it meets Ministry of Education officials again on Thursday and Friday next week, but it expected the ministry to give some ground.

“It’s the job of the ministry to bring an offer that they think is going to be addressing our issues to the table,” he said.

“We are going to be hoping that the effect of having 30,000 teachers and parents in support out on the street will have led to some movement.”

He said the union’s strategy had been led by the members, who wanted to strike because they were frustrated by the ministry’s “insulting” first offer.

“It was the teachers of this country that asked to turn a proposed half-day strike into a full-day strike,” he said.

Now they are talking of a follow-up two day strike.

It’s usually quite easy for Ardern and Hipkins to brush off attacks from their political Opposition, but this friendly fire from teachers could be somewhat more challenging for them.

Ardern’s championing of children in particular make things difficult, with teachers claiming that their pay claims are necessary for the good of the children.

Speaking at the protest yesterday may have had a temporary calming effect, but teachers seem to be on a mission regardless.


As an aside, a teacher playing the baby card – or more accurately. Using family of a politician in a campaign, was probably inevitable given the attention that has been given to Ardern’s baby…

…but this is a troubling sign.

Education: Nation interview with Chris Hipkins

Chris Hipkins has had a challenging start to his job of Minister of Education (he is also busy with other things, being Minister of State Services, Minister Responsible for Ministerial Services and Leader of the House).

He has had a lot of pressure from the National opposition over his determination to see the end of partnership (charter) schools.

And he has had to deal with teachers striking, taking advantage of a Government that should be more impressionable to their needs.

He is being interviewed on Newshub Nation this morning (9:30 am, also 10:00 am Sunday).

Won’t commit to smaller class sizes, says more support for students with special needs is the current focus