Teachers Strike It Big

June 21, 2019
Iain MacLeod

I wrote a few weeks ago about unprecedented industrial action being taken by school Teachers who went on strike for better wages and conditions. It looks like they have scored big from a government that said they had no more money to dish out.

In that piece I did point out that most New Zealanders would be very supportive of significantly increasing Teacher salaries over a lot of other things this Government spends our money on, even if that means putting up our taxes. It seems they have managed to find the money without increasing taxes so everyone is happy.

Primary school Teachers will now be paid the same as High School Teachers and the money is now looking pretty good when you consider there is 13 weeks holiday on top.

High school Teachers are going to receive a 3% annual pay rise but pay parity for primary school teachers will see them getting an increase of 18.5% over the next three years. When you consider that inflation in New Zealand is around 1% per annum this represents a significant pay rise for a primary school Teacher.

The offer creates a new top rate of $90,000 per annum with additional payments for those taking on management “units” and those involved in additional responsibilities such as taking sports and drama and so on. It is estimated that with around eight years of work experience as a teacher this level will be achieved.

Among other important offers on the table is to increase the maximum base salary for all teachers with a teaching degree to $85,490 per year. The new top rate of $90,000 is apparently going to be available to those teachers that have both teaching and subject degrees.

That now means that 46% of teachers or roughly 24,000 of them will on 1July 2021 be paid $90,000.

With management allowances and management units being paid on top this adds another $7000 a year to those taking on additional responsibilities which is estimated to be something like 57% of all Teachers.

When you consider that the median salary (for all those of working age including full-time and part time workers) in Auckland is $78,000 and across New Zealand $58,000, I think teaching has just become relatively well paid.

While having a gun held to their head convinced the Government to find an extra $270 million a year to pay for this, we are still several thousand Teachers short. It seems the Teachers are very happy with the money but the reality is they still have to take on a lot of extra responsibilities because we are still short of so many teachers.

While these new higher pay rates will certainly encourage Teachers to stay in the profession, perhaps more former teachers to come out of “retirement” and rejoin the profession, over the next 2 to 3 years an unprecedented opportunity exists for fluent English speaking foreign trained teachers to join us in New Zealand.

Those reading this from offshore should not forget that a foreign trained teacher who works for one term in New Zealand in the state sector is eligible for a $5000 allowance to help recoup the cost of the move to New Zealand.

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