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Pay glitch sees teachers paid less than those with less experience

A teacher who started in mid-2015 told the Sydney Morning Herald that he is paid $76,031 under the old pay scale. But if he had started six months later, he would be paid $90,236 under the new scale after the equivalent four years of experience and with the same accreditation at proficiency level.

“If I’d followed the same career path six months later, I would be on roughly $14,000 more than I am now after working for four years,” he said.

Another teacher with five years’ experience who completed accreditation at proficiency level more than two years ago said she is paid $83,136 under the old scale, which is $10,000 less than a teacher who has three years of experience. By next year, she says she will be paid at the same level as someone with the same accreditation who has two years of experience.

A spokesman for the NSW Department of Education said that “while it is possible for a new teacher remunerated under the new structure to reach a higher salary during a shorter period of time, no teacher has suffered a salary decrease”.

“Due to the concern this has caused teachers who are subject to the transition provisions, the department will ensure this issue is given consideration in the next award negotiations which are due to start in 2019,” the spokesman said.

NSW Labor’s spokesman on education Jihad Dib said he has spoken to teachers who were earning less than teachers with fewer years of experience.

“Something needs to be sorted out,” he said.

“It’s a complete muck up. We recognise it is a problem and in government we would look to rectify this.”

Maitland Labor MP Jenny Atchison has held meetings with teachers in her electorate and was disappointed the government had not yet corrected the problem they raised.

“These teachers are caught in the middle,” she said. “They are being disadvantaged compared to teachers coming after them.”

The NSW Teachers’ Federation has estimated it would cost the government around between $25 million to $27 million to address the transitional pay anomalies for thousands of teachers.

NSW Teachers Federation president Maurie Mulheron.

NSW Teachers Federation president Maurie Mulheron.Credit:Robert Peet

Teachers’ Federation president Maurie Mulheron said the union raised concerns in 2013 about the pay anomalies with the Department of Education which addressed them for one group of teachers. Since then, pay discrepancies for other groups of teachers have not been addressed.

“We’ve been to the government and the opposition trying to make it an election issue that needs to be settled,” Mr Mulheron said. “If it doesn’t, we will pursue it in negotiations for the next award which will happen this year.”

NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes said NSW teachers are among the best remunerated in the world.

“The Industrial Award that sets out teacher salaries and pay scales was agreed upon by the Teachers’ Federation and the Department of Education in 2014 and again in 2016,” he said.

“I’ve advised the Teachers’ Federation that we will address the issue as part of a new Award that will be negotiated later this year.”

Anna Patty is Workplace Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald. She is a former Education Editor, State Political Reporter and Health Reporter. Her reports on inequity in schools funding led to the Gonski reforms and won her national awards. Her coverage of health exposed unnecessary patient deaths at Campbelltown Hospital and led to judicial and parliamentary inquiries. At The Times of London, she exposed flaws in international medical trials.

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