About 29,000 primary teachers, principals and their supporters will be taking to the streets in public events around New Zealand today.
Teacher and principal NZEI Te Riu Roa members voted for a full day strike to be held on 15 August to send a strong message to the Government that the current collective agreement offers from the Ministry of Education would not fix the crisis in teaching.
NZEI Te Riu Roa lead principal negotiator Louise Green says there needs to be a substantive change in the Ministry’s offer in subsequent negotiations.
“There needs to be better investment in education so every child can reach their potential and we have enough teachers for every class”, says Green.
In collective agreement negotiations, principals and teachers had asked for more time to teach and lead, more support for children with additional learning needs and a pay jolt to stem the growing teacher shortage.
The Government’s offer would see the vast majority of teachers (about 86%) receive a pay rise ranging from about 2.2-2.6% a year for three years. This falls well short of the 16% over two years that the union had identified as being necessary to address recruitment and retention issues.
The Ministry has also not agreed to the union’s request for funding of a Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCO) in every school to assist children with additional learning needs.
Education spokesperson for National Nikki Kaye was scathing about the Government’s lack of involvement with today’s strike.
“The Government has failed to negotiate a settlement which has led to first primary teachers’ strike in almost 25 years, but now the Minister has also failed come up with a plan to support parents during the strike and has no clarity on how many schools are closing.
“With more than 500,000 children and their parents affected by the strike it seems a bit reckless to be leaving it to the last minute for hundreds of schools to confirm whether they are open for instruction or supervision, or closed.”