3 July 2019
Kindergarten teacher members of NZEI Te Riu Roa begin negotiations with the Ministry of Education today over the renewal of their collective agreement.
Early childhood representative on NZEI's National Executive, Virginia Oakly, says the first order of business in negotiations will be securing pay parity for kindergarten teachers.
"Kindergarten teachers are teachers. They've had pay parity with primary teachers in the past. Now that primary teachers have secured parity with their secondary colleagues, we'll be looking to secure the same deal for kindergarten teachers through a unified pay scale," she said.
"We'll also be raising serious issues around workload, release time, and retention of experienced teachers," she said.
Shelley Shennan, a head kindergarten teacher and member of the negotiation team, says the expectations on the profession have escalated significantly over the past decade.
"There's an escalating set of expectations on today's kindergarten teachers. Beyond the full attention we give to each child's learning, we're also increasingly playing a pastoral care role within the community. That can be complex and takes a lot of new skills and time," she said.
The Kindergarten Teachers' Collective Agreement expired on 31 May, and until now teachers had been frustrated by a delay in the Ministry setting dates for negotiation, writing en masse to the Secretary for Education asking for progress.
"We're pleased we're now finally around the table, but it's unacceptable that we're only just beginning negotiations when we're already more than a month past expiry of the collective agreement," says Ms Oakly.