Unions embroiled in negotiating a pay rise for primary school teachers and principals have attacked the Ministry of Education for re-packaging an old offer - just as a ballot looms for strike action.
The New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) and the Post Primary Teachers' Association (PPTA) will vote next week whether to take joint strike action on May 29 as negotiations with the ministry drag on.
The ministry is offering teachers and primary school principals about $1.2 billion in pay increases and other benefits, as well as $217m being invested in 600 learning support co-ordinators to help teachers support children and young people with additional learning needs.
Ellen MacGregor-Reid, MOH deputy secretary for early learning and student achievement, said the offer would give around 24,000 teachers about $10,000 more in their pay packets within 24 months of signing up.
Others would get at least 3 per cent pay rise each year for three years, she said.
MacGregor-Reid said strike threats were disruptive and did not offer a solution.
NZEI principals' representative for Te Tai Tokerau, Paul Barker, said the ministry re-packaged the same offer every time there was talk of strike action.
"The ministry is proven to be completely inflexible in terms of the amount it's offering. They are saying 'we're happy to be on the negotiating table but we have no more money to spend other than what we're offering'.
"Unless they come to the negotiating without a take-it-or-leave-it attitude, negotiations won't go anywhere. Their offer is the same as the one at the middle of last year when pay talks started," Barker said.
Responding to Barker's comments, MacGregor-Reid said the ministry has made a strong offer to NZEI worth nearly $700m in pay increases and extra classroom release time.
The total cost of the revised offers, she said, was $698m over four years which was $129m more than the previous offer in September 2018.
She said the ministry has also been flexible about finding ways to repackage the settlement to best meet the concerns of primary teachers and principals.
"But we have been clear that we have reached the limit of the money available to settle these collectives.''