The unions will hate it. And given their relationship with the government, it will be interesting to watch over the coming months.

But you cant have empty classrooms, or classrooms with no teachers. So the government has not only launched an offshore recruiting drive for teachers, but they've gone and doubled their initial target.

It started out at 400. They've already bumped it to 900.


This will not be dissimilar to the freezing workers scrap currently going on in Southland where the unions argue they have a line of locals desperate for employment - and the meatworks saying there are gaps a mile wide and they cant find local labour for love nor money.

The teachers' unions, meantime, will be ropeable because one of their main bargaining chips in the current pay rounds is the shortage.

And in a way, good on the government for swallowing its pride, not to mention tie-up with the unions, and biting the bullet or swallowing the rat, or whatever way to you want to look at it - and getting on with sorting out the problem with an answer.

That is the cold, hard reality of a global market place. For all the misery and woe the unions would have you believe exists in the classrooms of this country, there is always someone somewhere. Often they are ex-pats who want to fill the gaps, because really nothing beats home. And all they need is a small incentive to tip the balance.

Immigrants get $5000 for re-location, Kiwis coming back get $7000. The schools get recruitment costs covered. It's win-win, unless you're a union relying on a shortage to bolster your pay claim.

Which is not to say, and I keep repeating this, but it's not to say teaching isn't hard and getting harder, because it is.

But it was David Seymour on this station a week or so back that gave the startling stat around unions: not so long ago the top teachers' wage was 80% above the average income. These days it's 40%.

That's what unions and their insistence that everyone gets paid the same gets for you: a massive, glaring, embarrassing pay cut.


Do good teachers deserve such treatment? No, they do not.

But that's the unions for you - all for one and one for all. And the outcome being, the great teachers go private. Or they go offshore. Or they quit.

Talent needs to be valued, and the reality is all talent is not the same. And until the unions, or more accurately enough teachers, realise this, and bail from union membership and chart their own course based on their own talent, the industry will remain in its quagmire of industrial malaise with the Government sidelining them with offshore answers.