Govt prioritised tertiary education over primary school teachers – Nikki Kaye

First@Five 02/08/2018
Photo: Getty.

Primary school teachers have voted to put down their whiteboard markers for a full day of strike action on August 15.

The full-day strike replaces the already arranged three-hours of action.

Teachers were offered a raise over three years from the Ministry of Education; however, votes taken at paid association gatherings in June demonstrated the dominant part selected to dismiss it.

National Party education spokeswoman Nikki Kaye told RadioLIVE’s James Coleman that the Government has prioritised tertiary students over primary school teachers.

“Labour has spent $2.8 billion on tertiary students. And we believe this is a major reason why they’re not able to go into these collective negotiations and resolve this,” said Ms Kaye.

The coalition Government launched a free fees policy for new tertiary students shortly after the 2017 election. The policy may be extended to two years without fees in 2021, and three years in 2024 if conditions permit.

The latest Budget allocated an extra $470 million for the next year for free fees and student allowances. Tertiary education including student allowances is $2.6 billion.

But primary school teachers are asking for $350 million per year, which Ms Kaye suggests could have been paid twice over if they hadn’t prioritised tertiary students.

“We would’ve paid teachers more,” she told RadioLIVE, adding that the current Government has an even bigger budget then former National Government had.

Then-Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters told The AM Show on Wednesday that the Government needs time to settle the primary school teachers’ claims.

"They give us a chance we'll help them into the future, we can't do it all in the first year. They know that and so it's a serious disappointment," he told The AM Show.

It's been 24 years since primary teachers have taken action.

Listen to the full interview with Nikki Kaye above.

First@Five with James Coleman, 5am - 6am, on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.