Thursday, August 30, 2007

Running to stand still

Secondary teachers are going on strike next month in pursuit of a 7.5% wage rise and improved conditions. This seems high, and the Ministry of Education is certainly working hard to spin it as greedy, but its not. Instead, like the EPMU a couple of years ago, the teachers are being forced to strike simply to keep pace with where they were.

Since the PPTA's last settlement in 2004, teacher's wages have risen 8.74%. Over that same period, inflation has been 9.2% - so they actually got themselves a pay cut. And median labour costs, which the original pay claim was benchmarked against, have risen 16.2%. So, if the PPTA get everything they're demanding, they'll be exactly where they were three years ago. They're running to stand still.

Against this backdrop, the government's outrage at teachers' "greed" looks a little self-serving, and their insistence on a multi-year deal looks like an effort to erode the real increases in teachers' salaries negotiated in 2002.