Teachers join in strike
Central Hawke’s Bay teachers travelled north to Napier last Wednesday to join their colleagues in a day of national strike action.
Asmall group of CHB teachers assembled at the carpark of the CHB Settlers Museum in Waipawa before travelling to Napier where they joined more colleagues from CHB and others from across the region in a march from the Napier Soundshell to Clive Square, as part of a national day of industrial action organised by the primary and intermediate teachers’ union, the NZ Educational Institute (NZEI).
Around 1000 people took part in the Napier march, on a day when more than 29,000 primary teachers, principals, and their supporters took to the streets around the country to campaign for better pay, working conditions and incentives to attract new teachers.
At the Napier march, signs said “Pay mymum for the hours she actually does or give her back to me!” and “When you made us an offer did you forget we teach maths, too?”
CHB NZEI branch president Simmone McKay, a teacher at Waipukurau Primary, said therewere more than 100 NZEI members in CHB, and a high percentage turned out for the march.
“We had a good turnout from CHB. Most CHB schools were represented and my feeling is most CHB NZEI members were there. We had principals from CHB there aswell— I saw at least three there that I knew.”
She acknowledged the strike action, which forced schools to close for the day, had had an impact on parents, but she had a simple message for them.
“It’s actually about the kids, schools and resourcing. We don’t want to walk out on the kids for the day, but we feel that are not being listened to. It’s not just about a pay rise, it’s about resourcing the schools, it’s about catering for special needs children. And the pay rise is more about attracting teachers into the profession,” she said.
Ongaonga School deputy principal Karen Barkle, who has been in the teaching profession for 18 years, was one of those at the Napier march.
Striking for the first time in her career, she said the decision had not been made lightly.
Like many, she said she had had constant thoughts of leaving the profession, but the love of her job and the children had made her stay.
“It is really sad to feel like that,” she said.
“It is the time and it is the stress; not that you put on yourself, it is stress that is put on you by outside issues, like parents’ expectations and the things that kids need.”
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Waipukurau Primary teacher Sharon Middleton (centre) and colleagues from Flemington School and Otane School and their family members before heading to Napier for last Wednesday’s teachers’ strike.