Wednesday April 2nd, 2008
Vast Majority Of Teachers Benefit From Pay Rise - NZEI
National MP Anne Tolley should front up with evidence that any teachers are being pressured to join NZEI, or withdraw her claim, the education union NZEI Te Riu Roa says.
"We're proud of the fact that well over 90 percent of primary teachers are our members. They have recognised that collectively they have more power to negotiate better pay and conditions than on their own," NZEI Te Riu Roa National Secretary Lynne Bruce says.
"National MP Anne Tolley's claims in Parliament yesterday appear to be based on one complaint from one teacher. Sweeping claims that there is "teacher outrage" at union members getting a better deal than non-members and that teachers are being pressured to join NZEI cannot be substantiated," she says.
"When more than 26,550 teachers have come together, paying a membership fee to join their union, why shouldn't they get a better deal than those who simply wish to benefit without joining? Our members expect their union to negotiate the best possible outcome for them as a return on that investment. That is what we have done. Those who exercise their choice not to join cannot expect to receive the benefits of membership that members pay for."
Ms Bruce says joining NZEI is totally voluntary, and that NZEI is the biggest education union in the country because people working in the sector recognise that the union represents their industrial and professional interests very effectively.
Ms Bruce said unions were established because working people recognised that together they could achieve more than individually. "It is ironic that a National Party MP seeks to undermine people's right to join a union and benefit from that collective strength. In other fields of endeavour such as business or sport, National would surely be congratulating people who take action together and win good outcomes for themselves."
She said the pay increase to teachers was not "playing favourites" but important recognition by the Government that the recruitment and retention of quality teachers was central to the well-being of New Zealand society now and in the future. The additional lump sum payment was also in recognition of NZEI members' work in the Longer Term Work Programme with the Ministry of Education, which aims to develop new career pathways for teachers.