The Government has the power to avert potential strike action
10 October 2018
The Government has the power to avert further potential strike action if it improves its collective agreement offers to primary teachers and principals.
After resoundingly rejecting the Ministry of Education’s latest offers, primary teachers and principals will vote next week on whether to hold a week of rolling one-day strikes in November.
NZEI Te Riu Roa President Lynda Stuart said that following yesterday’s announcement of a bumper surplus, the ball is entirely in the Government’s court.
“Teachers and principals don’t want to have to take strike action. It’s disruptive to parents, to children and to teachers, support staff and principals themselves. But when they vote next week they’ll be weighing up that short term disruption against the long term disruption the teacher shortage is causing to children’s education,” said Ms Stuart. “The Government has the power to put a stop to all of this if they come back to the table with an offer that adequately addresses the crisis education is in.”
“The Finance Minister says the Government is saving for a rainy day. Anyone in education will tell you that from where we stand, that rainy day is now,” said Ms Stuart. “Last term more than half of all schools didn’t have enough teaching staff. As principals prepare for the first week of term four, many will be struggling to organise their schools without splitting classes and altering their curriculum. The shortage is severe.”
Yesterday’s $5.5b surplus is almost six times the estimated $921m annual cost for the Government to meet primary teachers’ and principals’ claims – including smaller class sizes, more specialist learning support, an increase in professional development and classroom release time, and a 16% pay increase.
Parents have shown throughout the negotiation process that they are firmly behind teachers. Nia Phipps, who sends her two children to Owairaka District School in Mt Albert, said she will be fully supporting teachers if they vote to take further strike action.
“The Government needs to show they care about children’s education and improve their offer to teachers. Yesterday’s surplus shows that the money is there to do that,” says Ms Phipps. “But if teachers are forced to take further strike action, they’ll have my full support and I know I am not alone in this support. Teachers at our school consistently go above and beyond in their commitment to our kids and the time has come to adequately value the work they do."
Members will vote on whether to hold a week of rolling one-day strikes in a secret ballot from 16-25 October.