Written By: - Date published: 9:00 am, July 4th, 2018 - 56 comments
Categories: education, greens, jobs, labour, national, Nikki Kaye, nz first, same old national, schools, tertiary education, Unions, wages, workers' rights - Tags:
Another important sector is attempting wages and conditions catchup. And National is continuing to try and rewrite history.
This time it is the teachers sector. I can speak with a certain amount of authority here because I have three teachers in my immediate family. It is very clear that the profession is in crisis, especially in Auckland.
The reasons? A large part is the last Government’s insistence on data collection rather than actually teaching our kids. Running test after test and entering data into the computer is not what teachers signed up for. They want to teach, not test.
And the job is more complex. There are an increasing number of young children with significant problems caused essentially by poverty. Sleeping in a car or not having eaten breakfast are not conducive to receiving quality education.
And Auckland’s house prices in particular, where your average teacher has no chance of buying even a modest house, have added to the problems. Most schools will take whoever shows up to a job interview.
Add to this the drift in salaries and conditions that have occurred over a number of years and the causes of the industrial action are clear.
The election of the Labour-Greens-NZ First Government has released a lot of pent up pressure. Workers now realise they are dealing with human beings, not cost accountants determined to minimise the power of the state and the cost of anything.
But National is attempting to blame the Government for the proposed strike. For instance in this tweet which received the perfect response from Dianne Khan.
No, Nikki, our strike is a result of a decade of mistreatment, mostly at the hands of National. The current Education Minister has a lot of bad policy to sort out, thanks to you, Hekia Parata, Anne Tolley, and your lackeys in ACT.
— SaveOurSchoolsNZ (@Dianne_Khan) July 3, 2018
Kaye’s press release said this:
The Government must better manage negotiations and reach a pay agreement with primary teachers and principals to prevent disruption to kids’ learning, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“The announcement today that primary school teachers and principals have voted overwhelmingly to strike in August after rejecting the Government’s pay offer is yet another example of Labour causing an escalation in industrial action since it came into office by promising more than it can deliver.
“If it goes ahead, it will be the first primary teachers’ strike since 1994. It will mean massive disruption to kids’ learning and to parents who may have to take time off work to ensure their kids are looked after while their teachers are on strike.
“Labour built up high expectations around pay rises and working conditions for teachers during the election campaign. Now Labour is in Government, it can’t follow through.
“National increased teacher salaries by around 17 per cent over our time in Government, all while dealing with the Global Financial Crisis and the Canterbury earthquakes.
“Labour has no excuse for not being able to follow through on its promise to significantly increase teacher salaries, given the billions of dollars more that it has to work with.
“This is simply a case of Labour prioritising tertiary students over primary school teachers and students. It can’t say there’s no money left when it chose to spend $2.8 billion on a fees-free policy that saw next to no increase in university participation.
Like everything else that comes from National’s PR machine the claims need to be parsed. Inflation increased 15.1% during National’s reign so if the teacher salary increase is correct it is marginal. And Auckland’s house prices increased by 94% during the same period. And the job requirements, particularly the data capture required by the National Standards policy, grew considerably.
This article points out that the OECD has said our teachers are paid 10 per cent less than other New Zealanders with similar levels of skills and experience, and New Zealand is ranked 19th in the OECD for teachers’ pay based on purchasing power.
As for the interest free loans for tertiary students this is what you do when you decide not to load up young people with debt just through getting a tertiary education.
Industrial turmoil is what happens when you suppress wages, load up extra obligations on workers, allow house prices to spike, and stand by as the number of children living in poverty increases dramatically. This is not a case of the Government not managing expectations, it is a case of teachers having after a decade of indifference deciding they have had enough.