The Government is playing a dangerous game with its ongoing war with teachers.
Boasting a membership of 50,000 teachers, the NZEI wields considerable power - some might say too much power - and the Government seems intent on taking it on.
The union believes New Zealand's education system is going backwards because of changes such as charter schools, national standards, league tables and performance-based pay.
It says the Government's education reform policy is based on the Global Education Reform Movement, despite having failed to improve student learning overseas.
The ongoing debacle of Novopay is doing nothing to improve relations.
The $26 million payroll system has underpaid, overpaid and changed the tax codes of teachers and others in the industry since Novopay was introduced six months ago.
It is unacceptable this has happened.
The scale of the problem is reflected by the fact the Government has had to appoint a minister to oversee it. Enter Steven Joyce, with the unenviable title of minister in charge of Novopay.
He says work has started to reduce pay errors, improve reporting to schools and provide improvements in the user interface, which would reduce the burden on school administrators.
It's doubtful teachers will be reassured by this given that we are six months down the track with this deeply flawed system.
None of this would have been necessary if the bugs had been identified early as is standard practice when introducing changes to important systems.
As this paper has noted before: how likely is it that any other industry would respond in such a tempered manner and continue to work despite the ongoing issues?
It's hard to imagine workers in other industries putting up with the level of disrespect our teaching staff have.
However, there are signs though their patience might be wearing out.
Tauranga educators took to the street this week to protest Novopay. Picketers say the situation is untenable and they cannot see a solution. I agree. Despite Mr Joyce's assurances there are no signs Novopay will be fixed anytime soon.
It is not too much to expect teachers to get properly paid. The Government needs to fix this now - or dump Novopay.