Finance Minister Bill English says secondary teachers should not waste their time today trying to persuade Education Minister Anne Tolley they should get a 4 per cent pay rise.

"There is no point wasting time on the minister - the minister has got no money," he told the Herald yesterday.

"But more importantly she's not the audience they have to persuade."

They had to explain to nurses, civil servants, police, firemen and doctors why secondary teachers were worth more than twice as much as them for a pay increase.

Mrs Tolley is due to speak today to the Post Primary Teachers Association conference in Wellington, following a silent protest yesterday at the primary teachers' conference over National Standards.

Secondary teachers went on strike earlier this month after being offered 1.5 per cent this year and a further 1 per cent next year - and eight further strikes are planned affecting Years 9, 10 and 11 (third, fourth and fifth formers).

The negotiating impasse made the prospect of a frosty encounter today between the minister and the union a strong likelihood.

Now it is looking more like a certainty with Mr English's criticisms here and Mrs Tolley's accusation last night on TV3 of unprofessionalism and brainwashing by teachers in encouraging students to complain to her about teachers' pay.

Mr English said that even if it wanted to give the teachers what they asked, the Government had to keep faith with everyone else it had settled with.

"And everyone has actually been pretty pragmatic about their pay.

"The Government has got to keep faith with everyone that has bargained with it in the last two years and we are pretty determined to keep faith with them, otherwise they won't believe us ever again."

Another issue was that the teachers offered nothing.

Nurses and police officers had either come up with their own initiatives to force management to deal with issues leading to efficiency or had been interested in considering other ways of doing things.

"PPTA has got no interest in doing anything differently. They have just a claim and that's it. They are out of step."

Mr English did not believe the PPTA's case had the support of parents.

"None whatsoever. There's a bit of partiality because they teach their kids and they work hard.

"Put it this way - it hasn't generated any political pressure - zero. Is it likely to? No.

"In fact less than zero. I think it will create political pressure the other way."

PPTA president Kate Gainsford could not be contacted last night but the union's just published PPTA News says teachers and principals are "in there for the long haul".

It says that while the union makes no apology for the 4 per cent pay claims it also has other priorities: health and safety claims and improving student learning conditions.