OPINION

The tricky thing with the teachers' deal is it's hard to call it a loss, given it isn't. Especially if you're a teacher: for teachers it's a big and good win.

Because $90,000 as a maximum base is a good wage in anyone's book, and I doubt there are many of us that would begrudge that. Most of us seem to agree teachers, by and large, are underpaid and overworked.

Not all, of course, and that's the bit that some of us struggle with. I'd happily pay the good teachers $150,000 because they're worth it; the same way some aren't worth the $90,000 because the attitude is wrong and the skills are lacking.

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But that's unionism for you. All for one and one for all, and it's also a big win for them. It is a reinforcement that placards and strikes work.

Which is why the Government's role in this is the part that is a very poor loss. They went into this particular leg of industrial unrest having created a reputation of being soft, they, in opposition, had built up expectation, and when they arrived in office, in came the claims.

And most of them have been met. There have been very large wage rises handed out, and as a result the next in line feel emboldened, and up go the numbers.

Chris Hipkins said a very large number of times $1.2 billion was it. He said it to me personally, when I asked him whether, hand on heart, that was true. He said it was. Turns out it wasn't.

Which is the part that damages him and his Government. Yes, negotiations are about positions and standing your ground, but only if you stand your ground. This Government are known as soft touches who can be bullied into submission.

There was some suggestion at the weekend that this was a good move by the Government, that Hipkins showed his skill and worth as one of Cabinet's top players.

What tosh. He wrote a cheque using our money. That's not skill, that's caving, folding, buckling, giving up, and acquiescing. Any industrial dispute ever started is always wrapped up with money. Adding more money isn't a skill, especially adding other peoples' money.

In excess of a quarter of a billion dollars is a sop to make a headache go away, and any one of us could have done that.

So the unions know what? Make enough noise and the prize is yours. When they say final offer, it isn't. When they say there is no more, that's not true. Strikes work, and this lot are soft.

Yes, you've got to happy for the teachers. But we now have a major issue over the Government's ability to tell the truth, hold a line, show backbone, and be good guardians of our money.