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Kindergarten Mediation Fails A Second Time

Kindergarten Mediation Fails A Second Time

The kindergarten teachers’ negotiation team is extremely disappointed that their talks have broken down for a second time.

They went back into negotiations today following last Thursday’s nationwide strike by more than 1700 kindergarten teachers. The striking teachers held marches and rallies in 22 cities and towns throughout the country and were joined on the streets by several hundred parents and children.

“The level of support for the striking teachers from families with children enrolled at kindergartens was overwhelming,” says NZEI Te Riu Roa National President Colin Tarr. “This is because parents share the teachers’ concerns about the working conditions the Ministry of Education and the kindergarten associations are trying to impose on the teachers.”

“We had hoped that the Ministry and the associations would acknowledge that teachers and parents are standing together to protect the quality of education provided to 45,000 children enrolled in the country’s kindergartens.”

That hope was dashed today when the employing parties refused to accommodate the concerns shared by teachers and parents. As a result the teachers have no choice but to consider taking further industrial action.

“The teachers are now being forced to consider taking further industrial action because the Ministry and the kindergarten associations insist on imposing working conditions that will undermine the quality of education provided in the country’s kindergartens,” says Colin Tarr,

“The employing parties must recognize that the only way to settle this dispute is for them to sit down and work constructively with the teachers’ negotiating team to reach a settlement that all the parties - the teachers, the children, the parents, the Ministry, and the kindergarten associations – can live with.”

The kindergarten teachers began their negotiations in August and the talks broke down for the first time on November 25. The teachers then attended a series of 40 stopworks throughout the country and voted to strike for only the third time in 121 years. The day long strike, last Thursday, (December 8) closed down virtually all of the country’s 615 kindergartens.

The teachers’ negotiating team will be meeting to discuss the latest breakdown in the talks and to consider its options. The talks have broken for a second time because the employers are still:

Refusing to recognise the need for kindergarten teachers to continue having term breaks like their colleagues in primary and secondary schools.

Demanding the ability to increase the level of contact time (the time teachers work directly with children) to a level that will cause teacher burnout and will erode education quality.

Refusing to recognise the extra responsibilities shouldered by head and senior kindergarten teachers by refusing to pay them at a level that was agreed when kindergarten teachers gained pay parity with primary and secondary teachers.

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