Teach­ers’ strikes start­ing on Mon­day

Hawke's Bay Today - - Nation - Si­mon Collins

Pri­mary teach­ers will go ahead with rolling re­gional strikes next week af­ter teach­ers re­jected the lat­est Gov­ern­ment pay of­fer worth $700 mil­lion over three years.

The NZ Ed­u­ca­tional In­sti­tute (NZEI) said fa­cil­i­ta­tion un­der the Em­ploy­ment Re­la­tions Au­thor­ity ended on Thurs­day and the strike meet­ings will con­sider new of­fers from the min­istry and rec­om­men­da­tions from the fa­cil­i­ta­tor.

Strik­ing pri­mary prin­ci­pals and teach­ers will be ral­ly­ing on more than 100 street cor­ners in Auck­land at 7.30am on Mon­day, and hav­ing mass meet­ings to con­sider the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion later that day.

The min­istry made a new of­fer to teach­ers on Thurs­day, but did not move on its ear­lier of­fer to raise pay scales by 3 per cent a year for three years.

Its lat­est of­fer in­cluded a new top step and the par­tial re­moval of a cap on qual­i­fi­ca­tions for some teach­ers from 2020.

NZEI pres­i­dent Lynda Stu­art said the of­fers did not ad­dress union claims for lower class sizes and more pro­fes­sional time.

“The ques­tion is: will this ad­dress the cri­sis in ed­u­ca­tion and the teacher short­age? What we asked for had chil­dren at the heart — for ex­am­ple more time to teach and smaller class sizes. This is some­thing that our mem­bers now need to de­cide,” she said.

School com­mu­ni­ties were no­ti­fied in­for­mally sev­eral weeks ago of the strike dates, but for­mal strike no­tices were is­sued late on Thurs­day night for Auck­land.

No­tices for other re­gions of the coun­try that strike later next week were to be is­sued yes­ter­day and on Mon­day.

Stu­art said mem­bers would care­fully con­sider both the of­fer and any rec­om­men­da­tions made by the fa­cil­i­ta­tor at mass meet­ings

be­ing held dur­ing the strikes.

“The strike ac­tion still stands as the of­fer is not sub­stan­tially dif­fer­ent enough to give us the man­date to re­voke the strike no­tice. We will give mem­bers the op­por­tu­nity to con­sider the of­fer, any rec­om­men­da­tions from the ERA, and next steps.”

Strikes will take place in Auck­land on Mon­day, the rest of the North Is­land (ex­cept Welling­ton) on Tues­day, Christchurch on Wed­nes­day, the rest of the South Is­land on Thurs­day, and Welling­ton on Fri­day.

Sec­re­tary of Ed­u­ca­tion Iona Hol­sted said the min­istry’s of­fer would give teach­ers $698 mil­lion over three years — $129m more than the pre­vi­ous of­fer.

“Most teach­ers would get be­tween $9500 and $11,000 ex­tra an­nu­ally in their pay pack­ets by 2020,” she said.

“The of­fer also pro­vides for ad­di­tional pro­gres­sion on the pay scale.

“Our of­fer took into ac­count the large in­vest­ment be­ing made by the Gov­ern­ment into learn­ing sup­port, in­clud­ing the re­cent an­nounce­ment of $217m for 600 new learn­ing sup­port c-oor­di­na­tor roles, which the NZEI has asked for as part of eas­ing teacher work­load and help­ing par­ents and chil­dren.

“We ex­pected the NZEI Ex­ec­u­tive would have waited for the rec­om­men­da­tions of the fa­cil­i­ta­tor and given its mem­bers an op­por­tu­nity to prop­erly con­sider our new pay of­fer be­fore de­cid­ing to go ahead with strikes.

Rec­om­men­da­tions from the Em­ploy­ment Re­la­tions Au­thor­ity were to be avail­able by late yes­ter­day.

“Set­tling pay ne­go­ti­a­tions with the NZEI is im­por­tant and we have done all we can to reach agree­ment. We know strike ac­tion is dis­rup­tive for chil­dren’s learn­ing and for par­ents.”

PHOTO / FILE

NZEI na­tional pres­i­dent Lynda Stu­art has con­firmed that pri­mary teach­ers will strike again next week.

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