Secondary teachers will start voting today on possible strikes after their leaders instantly rejected the Government's latest pay offer as "half-hearted".

Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) president Jack Boyle said the latest pay offer, received yesterday, was "almost exactly the same as the last one".

"To say we are disappointed is an understatement," he said.

"The offer was last-minute and half-hearted. We don't understand why they bothered; they must have known our members will find it completely unacceptable."


The union executive agreed last night to recommend rejection of the offer at stopwork meetings starting this afternoon in Manukau and Central Otago, with more meetings around the country until November 23.

"PPTA is holding mass meetings around the country for secondary teachers to discuss the offer, vote whether to accept or reject it, and figure out next steps," Boyle said.

"Secondary teachers want to be able to bring out the best for their students and for their profession. The twin catastrophes of burgeoning shortages and excessive workload mean we aren't able to do either.

"There's a real sense of frustration that there seems to be no genuine commitment from the Government to solving supply, retention and workload issues.

"The Government knows as well as we do how to fix those problems: better pay and working conditions."

Primary teachers have already held a one-day strike on August 15 and are due to hold regional strikes next week unless they agree on a pay deal before then. They have been in mediation with the Ministry of Education since Monday and are still talking today.

Until now the ministry has offered both teachers' groups pay rises of 3 per cent a year for three years, or 9.3 per cent by November 2020.

The same deal has already been accepted by police officers and nurses, who also won extra steps on their pay scale which give experienced nurses 15.9 per cent extra by 2020.

But midwives yesterday rejected the same 9.3 per cent standard pay rise plus two pay step increases and a lump sum payment, voting to strike later this month for more.

Primary and secondary teachers have had a unified pay scale since 1998, although secondary teachers currently earn slightly more in practice because their last pay rise was in September last year, four months after primary teachers' last pay rise.

The proposed 9.3 per cent rise would lift beginner secondary teachers' base salaries from $51,200 to $55,137 and base salaries for those at the top of the scale from $78,000 to $85,233.

Both teachers' groups argue that they need more than 9.3 per cent extra to attract new recruits into teaching, after a 40 per cent drop in teacher trainees has combined with population growth to produce record teacher shortages.

PPTA is also seeking a housing allowance of up to $100 a week for teachers renting homes in high-rent areas such as Auckland, Tauranga and Queenstown, where the teacher shortage is most critical.