NSW Premier Chris Minns has implored the union body for public school teachers to return to the negotiating table, with a proposed pay deal set to make NSW teachers entering the profession the highest paid in Australia.
Tensions came to a boil earlier this month when the NSW Teachers Federation (NSWTF) accused the government of an “act of betrayal,” claiming it abandoned a deal both parties had agreed to.
The government’s proposed offer was based on a four-year deal that would offer a significant uplift to salaries of up to 12 per cent in the first year, followed by 2.5 per cent annual increases, which the union blasted as insulting.
However, appearing on ABC Radio’s Sydney Mornings program on Monday, Mr Minns said the figures on offer needed to be “put in perspective”.
He said the proposed deal would propel first-year teachers in NSW from being the worst paid to the highest paid in the country due to a $10,000 uplift.
“To put it into perspective, if you’ve joined the NSW teaching profession as a first-year teacher, rather than being offered $75,000, you’ll earn $85,000. Within four years, your salary will be $105,000,” he said.
For experienced teachers with more than seven years’ experience, their salaries would increase from about $113,000 to $122,000.
Mr Minns added that the “front-loaded” deal was done “at the teachers federation’s request, and the government would have also considered a smaller initial boost in place of bigger pay increases in years two, three and four.
He said the salary uplift was needed to keep teachers in the their jobs, with figures suggesting 20 per cent of first and second-year teachers are leaving the profession.
“(But) why would you want that? You’d want the compound interest effect of having it all in the first year,” he said.
While the award for teachers doesn’t expire until January 2024, the NSWTF has implored the government to reconsider.
Following a protest of more than 150 western Sydney-based teachers at the Education Minister Prue Car’s office last Wednesday, the union body has also threatened an “escalation of action” from September if their demands aren’t met.
“The teacher shortage in NSW is severe and getting worse and our kids deserve better. The fastest and best way to tackle this crisis is for the government to pay teachers what they’re worth,” NSWTF acting president Henry Rajendra said.
“It’s not too late to revive and honour the agreement the government made.
“Teachers will continue to exert maximum political pressure and on September 9 our State Council will meet to decide whether to escalate that action.”