14 February 2013
Christchurch rally to support targeted schools
The NZEI Te Riu Roa National Executive has called off a proposed strike by Christchurch school staff next week after the Ministry of Education said it would work with the union to ensure real engagement with teachers and school communities to put them at the heart of any future decision-making about education in Christchurch.
NZEI National President Judith Nowotarski says the union is responding in good faith to the Ministry’s position. She says Christchurch members will overwhelmingly support the decision because many have indicated they want to remain in their classrooms next week to support children and their communities after the Minister of Education’s announcements on Monday about school closures and mergers.
Instead of the strike, teachers and support staff are inviting the wider Christchurch community to join them at a rally and march at 4pm on Tuesday (19 February) at the CBS arena to show solidarity with the affected schools.
In December, Christchurch teachers and support staff voted overwhelmingly for strike action to show their anger at the lack of genuine consultation by the Ministry over its plans for rebuilding education in Christchurch.
However NZEI National President Judith Nowotarski says there has been some real engagement from the Ministry of Education and educators have strongly indicated that they believe it is important to be with their communities and children at such a difficult time.
“The voice of teachers will be a central part of that engagement.
“Obviously we are bracing ourselves for Monday’s announcement and are putting in place arrangements for supporting the targeted schools and their principals, teachers and support staff.
“The Ministry has now agreed to discuss ways to ensure that from now on teachers and school communities are at the heart of genuine engagement and changes to education in Christchurch.
“Teachers did not commit to take industrial action lightly. So we are very pleased to hear positive signals from the Ministry about listening to the teachers and communities of Christchurch. We hope that the Government will now put children at the centre of change instead of using Christchurch children as guinea pigs in a radical education experiment.
“Tuesday’s rally will show just how concerned teachers and the community are about education and help to create a positive outcome for all Christchurch children.”