Mike Hosking: Job satisfaction numbers shows teachers' pay row is an industrial con

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 12 June 2019, 11:23AM
How can early education and university teachers love their jobs so much, but primary and secondary don't? (Photo / Getty)

While always dubious of surveys, what we can’t escape from this week’s job satisfaction numbers is that the education sector might not be as bad as so many make it out to be.

While Air New Zealand and DOC are the best specific places to work, early childhood and tertiary are your best sectors.

And yet, they are in education and education is a cesspit of misery and deprivation and industrial action, isn’t it?

So why the high satisfaction? I asked the Randstad people who conducted the numbers, and they said they are not primary or secondary and that is where the trouble is. Which is true, but they are education.

So surely the question to ask of all of those that are finding their plight in front of a class or students arduous is what is it they’re doing at uni, tech or pre-school that is different from what they’re doing in primary or secondary?

How fundamentally can the same job be, at one end of the spectrum, so appallingly bad, and yet at the other so brilliantly fulfilling?

To be fair, you don’t hear from the uni sector anywhere near as often as the others, but pre-school has been an issue. They claim a shortage of staff, they claim poor pay.

So one is left wondering just how much of that is union driven. You can’t have it both ways, you can’t have the unions painting the picture of woe and misery and Ranstad telling us its awesome.

As for primary teachers, some interesting numbers have been floated this week. Listen to these: a primary teacher with a degree or advanced diploma can earn up to $83k a year, but if you deal in a specialists subject it’s almost $86k - a mile above the average wage. $86k, I think it is fair to say, is a very good wage indeed.

Would many of the parents who support the teachers be aware that the wage is that high, and if they were aware, would the support for more industrial action be as wide spread as it appears currently to be?

And remember, the $85k is based on a government offer of $1.2 billion. The teachers want $4 billion.

A secondary teacher after this offer kicks in can earn $90k, while primary principals will be on up to $146,000. Secondary principals in large state schools currently start on $156,000.

Compare that to the median salary in the public service which is $67,000. Only 2.5 per cent of income earners in this country take home more than $150,000, so these guys are right up there.

And you might argue they are worth every penny, but let not  kid ourselves. It’s shocking money because it isn’t, not even close.

So by the time you take the Ranstad satisfaction numbers, add the real wages, how much of the so-called upset we hear about from the unions is the unions being unions. In other words it’s an industrial con. 

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