By: Carla Penman

 

Teachers at Roscommon School say they love their jobs but want to own homes and start families.

About half of the teachers at a south Auckland school are on the verge of quitting if better pay isn’t negotiated soon.

27,000 primary teachers and principals across the country will walk off the job for a half day – or potentially a full day – on August 15.

The strike action, which is the first primary teachers’ strike since 1994, follows two weeks of meetings held by the union, NZEI, and a vote on whether to accept a pay offer from the Education Ministry or strike.

The Ministry of Education had offered to increase pay, in the majority of cases, by between 2.2 and 2.6 per cent a year for three years. The offer was a far cry from the 16 per cent increase teachers felt was needed to retain and recruit staff.

Adam Tamariki is in his fourth year of teaching at Roscommon School in Manurewa.

“I’m 32 and my wife is 27 and we are definitely keen to have a family but that’s definitely on hold at the moment with the pay situation.”

He’s one of about 30 teachers at the decile one school.

Tamariki thinks about half of them may quit the profession if more pay isn’t negotiated.

“Probably 98 per cent of them are union members, I think there’s only a few that are not. They are quite passionate about what’s been happening in the news, and ready to roar, I’d say.”

Roughly half of the teachers at the decile one school are aged between 25 and 35, he says.

Lorrine Afoa, 29, is in her third year of teaching.

“It’d be nice to have my own family and go on maternity leave and be happy to come back.”

Terry Televave says times are tough and while he loves the job, his family is struggling.

“I’m renting at the moment cause like I said I can’t afford to own a house. I have three kids and man it’s … I feel like we’re living from paycheck to paycheck.”

He says he’s left with just $300 after paying rent and bills each week.

Terry thinks teaching has lost its professional status and that’s scary.

“I think lots of people think we just work 9 till 3 and that’s about it. But it is a professional job, we do have degrees, we do go to university to get these jobs so it’s something we feel we should be paid accordingly for.”

Adam, Terry and Lorrine are on the brink of changing careers if they don’t get better pay soon.

“I know you don’t stay in teaching for the money but just the cost of living is very expensive and doesn’t weigh up,” Lorrine says.

“It will break my heart because as I said from the beginning I love this job, I want to give back to my community and this area that I was brought up in,” Terry says.

Adam says if it’s already bad now, I think two years from now it’s probably going to be “diabolical”.

The school’s principal declined to comment.

The Ministry of Education is disappointed that NZEI members have rejected the latest pay offer and are discussing strike action amid negotiations.

A spokesperson says negotiations with the union will continue over the coming weeks.

Source: NZ Herald

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