Press Release – ACT New Zealand
Broken union model creating third-world staff shortages
Rural schools temporarily closing  due to a lack of staff is something we’d expect from the third world, not New Zealand, says ACT Leader David Seymour.
“Desperate staff shortages are emerging as teacher salaries have fallen by 30% compared to average salaries – all thanks to rigid union contracts,” says Mr Seymour.
“Parents worried about getting the best and brightest in front of their kids will be outraged to hear that in some cases there won’t be any teacher at all. It’s a fundamental failure to keep the promise of a quality education for every New Zealand child.
“Decades of neglect caused by a broken union model have constricted teacher salaries. And we know from socialist countries like Venezuela that when you have a price cap (in this case on teacher salaries), you get shortages. This is why New Zealand schools badly need ACT’s education policy of putting a billion dollars more into teacher salaries and abandoning union payscales.
“Regional schools need to be able to offer salaries high enough to attract teachers, even if it means a change in lifestyle. With three teachers, a small rural school like Tauhoa would receive $60,000 more funding for staff. This would make an enormous difference.
“Auckland schools face a different kind of pressure – as MP for Epsom I’ve spoken to principals losing staff due to the costs created by a chronic housing shortage. I’ve heard stories where staff members have called in sick and the principal has had to step in to teach the class.
“ACT’s policy will address these pressures. And because it comes with the proviso that schools leave the union contract, they’ll have the flexibility to address their specific staffing needs, by paying more for teachers with vital expertise, or by simply using the funding to employ a larger number of teachers on current salary levels.
“It’s frankly a disgrace that teacher unions would reject a billion dollars in new funding in order to protect the status quo that denies kids the education they deserve.”