ZB

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Government has lost the upper hand on all future strikes

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Publish Date
Fri, 14 Jun 2019, 4:19pm
Chris Hipkins should have never said there was no more money unless there was really no more money, writes Heather. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Government has lost the upper hand on all future strikes

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Publish Date
Fri, 14 Jun 2019, 4:19pm

It looks like drinks are on the teachers tonight because it appears they’ve won their pay battle with the government.

It was announced today that the Government has found a bit more money for the teachers.

The offer was $1.2 billion, now it’s $1.5 billion, and primary school teachers will achieve pay parity with secondary school teachers.  

That’s a big pay rise for most teachers. It’ll work out at about $12,000 each or about 18.5%. The top pay band will now will be $90,000.

Which, to be fair, is getting teachers back to what you would expect them to be earning after four years’ worth of university for goodness sake.

Hopefully this will address some of the concerns that teachers have, mainly that they themselves weren’t getting paid enough for the important work they do. And that the pay wasn’t enough to make the job attractive to young people\, so we didn’t have quality teachers coming through to teach our kids.

For the Government though, it’s a little more awkward.

Where’d that money come from eh?

Remember when education minister Chris Hipkins said this? “We've been very clear that there won't be any further from the Government on salaries in this round.” 

Or when he said this: “The latest offer that the Government has made is it. There is not going to be any more money, so they can choose to accept the offer, they can ask for the offer to be reconfigured, but striking in the hope that more money will eventuate is going to lead to disappointment.”

Yeah, he was really sure there wasn’t money. And suddenly there was $300 million spare. That’s enough money to buy a brand new Boeing, or pay for Canterbury DHB’s deficit for two and a half years.

That money pretty just appeared. You don’t just find that lying under the couch, or in that bank account you forgot you had.

It’s awkward for the Government, because it’s now lost the upper hand in all future pay negotiations. Next time the Government comes out and says there’s no more pay – well, we know there probably is.

I’d hazard a bet the striking junior doctors have taken note of what just happened.

So there’s a lesson for Hipkins in this one: don’t say there’s no more money unless there really is no more money. And if you say there really is no more money, then you need to have the mettle to outlast the strikes, until the other side gives up.

Otherwise, you embarrass yourself, and you make it that much harder for your colleagues to handle their own strikes.