The union representing 25,000 primary school teachers begins pay negotiations with the Ministry of Education today.
The New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) said a new collective employment contract developed with the ministry and the School Trustees Association aimed to address the loss of experienced teachers from the profession.
NZEI president Irene Cooper said teachers were leaving because of the perceived lack of career opportunities in primary teaching and the capping of salaries of experienced teachers who choose not to move into management.
One of the union's claims is to enhance pay for new senior teacher roles and to promote a nationally consistent career path.
The union is proposing a 4 per cent increase in basic pay for primary teachers backdated to July 1, with a further 4 per cent each year for the next two years.