By: Simon Collins

Primary teachers have released details of their proposed regional strikes in November as a nine-day strike ballot begins tomorrow.

The NZ Educational Institute (NZEI) says the one-day regional strikes would be:

  • Monday November 12: Auckland region.
  • Tuesday Nov 13: Rest of North Island except Auckland and Wellington.
  • Wednesday Nov 14: Wider Christchurch area including Ellesmere, Ashley, Mid-Canterbury, Malvern, Hurunui.
  • Thursday Nov 15: Rest of South Island.
  • Friday Nov 16: Wellington Region, culminating in a march on Parliament.

Teachers will vote on the proposed strikes in an online ballot that will open tomorrow and close on October 25.

The union said an “overwhelming” majority of NZEI members voted last month to reject the Ministry of Education’s latest offer of a 9.3 per cent pay rise over three years.

Teachers at rallies on their last strike on August 15 voted by voices to support a two-day national strike as their next step, but the union’s annual conference decided on October 1to scale this back to one-day regional stoppages to minimise financial costs both to teachers and to parents who would have to take days off work to care for their children.

NZEI president Lynda Stuart said the Government still had the ability to avert the next strikes if it came back with an improved offer.

“Strike action is always a last resort,” she said.

“However, if teachers are forced to take strike action, it is clear that they continue to have the public’s strong support. Parents understand that ultimately this is all about the future of their children’s education.”

Pay rises of 9.3 per cent over three years appear to have become fixed as the going rate in the public service.

In August nurses accepted a 9.3 per cent increase over two years, but with no increase in the third year. However they also won two extra steps at the top of their pay scale which will give experienced nurses an effective 15.9 per cent pay rise over three years.

Last week Police Association president Chris Cahill recommended that police accept a similar 9.3 per cent over three years.

But teachers believe they can push for more because of a severe teacher shortage which led to a Government package yesterday including a target of recruiting 900 teachers from overseas to fill a shortfall of 850 teachers expected next year.

Last week Stuart said a $5.5 billion government surplus in the year to June showed that the politicians have “the room to move if they have the political will to do so.”

“The $5.5b surplus compares to an estimated $921 million total annual cost of primary teachers’ and principals’ claims – including smaller class sizes, more support staff and a 16 per cent pay increase,” she said.

Source: NZ Herald


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