Teachers, principals and supporters gathered in rallies all over the country yesterday.

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Lynda Stuart said support was “overwhelming”.

“Without exception, from the big cities to small rural towns people turned up in their thousands. We have not seen anything like this for 24 years and it shows the depth of feeling and that it’s time for these important issues to be addressed. This has started a movement that will not be stopped now and it’s for the children of this country – it is their futures that we are talking about.”

A straw poll of the crowds at the rallies showed strong support for a two-day strike if it was needed, but this is only indicative of feeling, not a decision, said Stuart.

“We look forward to continuing negotiations with the Ministry of Education and will be entering these in good faith.

“We expect there will be a new negotiating mandate from the Ministry based on the strong show of support yesterday. We will take any new proposals out to members to consider before any decision would be made about any further industrial action.”

Stuart clarified that while a larger increase has been offered to beginning teachers, for 85 per cent of teachers the offer is just over two per cent a year.

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