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English Calls For Urgent Action On Teacher Strike

3 March 2002

Helen Clark should step in and resolve immediately the increasing bitter stand off between the Government and teachers, says National Party Leader Bill English.

"If the Government was really interested in young people's education they would never have let it get this bad.

"Teachers through out New Zealand thought this Labour Government would be their friend, now like their health colleagues they are finding out they could not have a worse enemy and that is why they are so bitter.

"This Government is building up an appalling record in the area of public service and the current disruption within education is testament to that.

"It was not that long ago that current Education Minister Trevor Mallard described National's 1999 settlement of seven and a half per cent over two years as 'mean and miserly', so why is he now surprised at teachers anger at his offer of 3.5% over two years. After 10 months of dithering the Government has created a real mess.

"There can be no doubt that the extra demands placed on teachers by way of the new National Certificate of Educational Achievement weighs heavily on their minds.

"The Government always new there would be an issue over the NCA and should have resolved this a long time ago. Students preparing for this year's NCA are having to pay dearly for the Governments inaction. These students only get one chance and deserve every chance they can get.

"It is ironic that at a time when this Government is full of talk about a knowledge economy that they are paying no respect at all to those who are best positioned to encourage it.

"We have under a Labour Government good hardworking New Zealanders like health workers and teachers striking which means there must be something going very wrong in the way Labour runs the public service.

"I call on the Prime Minister to step in and sort out this latest debacle and give the teachers the respect she should have shown them a long, long time ago.


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