"Disheartened and dispirited" educators upset, uncertain following public sector pay restriction announcement

6 May 2021

Educators across the country are shocked that the Government has chosen to restrict public servants' pay for a further three years, says education union NZEI Te Riu Roa.

Teachers, principals and support staff, and a huge range of other education professionals, are all set to be affected by the announcement.

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Liam Rutherford says the decision is concerning, and unfair on educators who have played a key role in our COVID-19 recovery.

"Over the last year we've already seen the impact of this policy on our learning support staff members, who provide individualised support for school children with specific needs. They are currently negotiating their own collective agreement - and these pay restrictions have made it incredibly difficult for them to make headway with their legitimate claims.

"We've all seen that our educators have really gone the extra mile to support our tamariki and our communities during the pandemic - working extra hours, innovating quickly, and emotionally supporting and reassuring children and their whānau. To be thanked like this, with an announcement that they shouldn't expect even standard pay progression in their upcoming negotiations, is truly shocking.

"Our teachers' and principals' collective agreements are set to be renegotiated next year, within the timeframe of this announcement. Understandably, they're now worried and uncertain about their prospects. Since yesterday morning our members have been flooding our phonelines wanting clarification on how this will affect them. They're disheartened and dispirited.

"In the last round of collective agreement negotiations, our teachers and principals received a significant pay correction that has brought them closer to their counterparts elsewhere in the public sector. But without ongoing pay increases, they'll quickly fall behind again - we've achieved too much now to return to that.

"As New Zealand recovers from COVID-19, it's unacceptable for us to leave any of our public servants, who have cared for us and supported us throughout the pandemic, behind."

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