The Ministry of Education is urging educators to say no to further industrial action as NZEI Te Riu Roa announces that teachers and principals will vote on whether to hold a national week of one-day strike actions in November.
The announcement – made at the union’s annual conference – comes after primary teachers reject the latest Ministry offer, which included a 9.3 per cent wage increase to settle the collective agreements.
While improved from the Ministry’s initial offer, the union says the offer failed to address the need for a significant pay jolt, teacher workload or resourcing for children with additional learning needs.
However, Secretary of Education Iona Holsted says the Ministry is working to address aspects of the union’s claim and to improve conditions for teachers and principals, including the removal of National Standards, efforts to increase teacher supply, and the recent launch of the draft Disability and Learning Support Action Plan.
Holsted says the Ministry is also working with teachers and principals to reduce their workload, improve wellbeing and plan a medium to long-term workforce strategy.
However, NZEI president Lynda Stuart says it isn’t enough.
“Our members are concerned about the impact any strike will have on parents and children, but on balance we are hearing that education is already being disrupted by the teacher shortage. Over half of schools didn’t have enough staff last term. We are hearing about so many children being shifted into other classes because schools can’t find a teacher for them.”
The proposed strike action would consist of rolling one-day strikes throughout the country in November. Secret ballots on the action will be conducted by NZEI from October 16-25.
The Ministry says it will continue to negotiate with NZEI to avoid disruption for children and their families and to reach a settlement.