'Corrupt' Education Ministry releases video to persuade teachers over pay dispute

Simon Collins, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sunday, 25 November 2018, 4:21PM
The video has been criticised by teachers and the unions. (Photo / NZ Herald)
The video has been criticised by teachers and the unions. (Photo / NZ Herald)

The Ministry of Education is being slammed for "corrupt" use of taxpayers' money for a video trying to persuade primary teachers to accept the ministry's latest pay offer.

video released on the ministry's Facebook page on Thursday says a teacher called "Jessie", who is on the top of the current pay scale, will get an $11,101 pay rise from $71,891 to $82,992 by November 2020 under the ministry's latest pay offer.

The video has inflamed many teachers who are calling it "a breach of good faith" as teachers are about to begin a week-long electronic vote starting on Tuesday on whether to accept the pay offer.

Rachel Evans, principal of a small rural Auckland school, commented that the video "doesn't seem appropriate in the middle of good-faith bargaining".

"Disappointing. Appalling. Dishonest," she wrote.

Alice Robinson, a Wellington advocate for children with learning differences, called for the resignations of ministry head Iona Holsted and deputy head Katrina Casey if they approved the video.

"This is incredibly corrupt behaviour when you are in the middle of negotiating a collective agreement," she said.

NZ Educational Institute (NZEI) president Lynda Stuart declined to comment, but said she could not recall the ministry producing videos aimed at persuading teachers to accept pay offers before.

NZEI members have gone on strike twice, in August and again this month, in support of claims including a 16 per cent pay rise over two years, reducing class sizes, doubling class release time from one hour a week to two, and funding learning support coordinators at all schools.

The institute produced its own video last Monday noting that the ministry's latest offerincludes pay increases of 3 per cent a year for three years plus higher maximum pay rates, and funding 600 learning support coordinators by 2020, but that it has made no offer so far on class sizes or class release time.

An electronic ballot on whether to accept or reject the offer begins on Tuesday and ends on December 4.

Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) members voted last week to reject a similar pay offer, and the two unions are considering joint strikes in the first term next year.

Teachers commenting on Facebook have not disputed the ministry's claim that its latest offer would give "Jessie", a teacher on the top of the pay scale for a teacher with just a degree, a raise of $11,101 or 15.4 per cent by November 2020.

But they say the video, which has been viewed 11,000 times, is unbalanced because it doesn't mention that the ministry hasn't offered anything on class sizes or class release time.

"I'm happy with their pay offer," wrote Canterbury teacher Jeanette Neal.

"What I'm not happy about is that they have not addressed the class sizes or lack of learning support for children who face challenges."

Waihi College teacher Melissa Rosamond Watt wrote: "Thanks for throwing us under the bus MoE when we try to tell the public it's about conditions, their kids, and a hell of a lot more than the money."

Auckland teacher Rochelle Lambourn wrote: "It's not about the money. It's about the conditions! I am unable to get an educational psychologist into my school. Why because there aren't any."

Teachers posted a rival video on YouTube about "Katie", a newly qualified teacher with just a degree whose pay would go up by only 3 per cent a year under the ministry's offer, from $47,980 to $52,429.

However, a ministry spokeswoman said the ministry video was "simply communicating the facts - nothing more, nothing less".

"We make no apologies for accurately communicating the pay increases teachers will receive as a result of our final settlement offer," she said.

"The $698 million settlement offer was made after many days of negotiations and following an Employment Relations Authority finding which described the offer as a 'handsome and competitive proposal in the current fiscal environment.'"


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