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May 27, 2019 | by  | in News |
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Largest-ever teachers’ strike scheduled for Wednesday

Both the primary and secondary teachers’ unions have voted for a joint strike on May 29, which will take place this Wednesday.

 

Earlier in the month, almost 50,000 members of both NZEI Te Riu Roa, which represents primary school teachers, and the Post Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA), representing secondary school teachers, voted “overwhelmingly” for the strike, according to a joint statement released by both unions.

 

The teachers unions have been in negotiations with the Ministry of Education since early last year, which have stalled in recent months over failure to agree on details in their contract, such as pay, class size, and the availability of learning support staff.

 

“The offers we have received from the government have not addressed the issues our profession is facing. They will not turn around the crisis in education that is looming,” said NZEI Te Riu Roa president Lynda Stuart.

 

“We are united in our aspirations,” added PPTA president Jack Boyle. “Teachers do not take strike action lightly. We would rather be with our kids in our classrooms. We want a positive outcome.”

 

Education Minister Chris Hipkins told RNZ that he sympathised with the teachers but could not raise pay further, saying “we’ve got to get the balance right here” so the Government’s other priorities, such as housing and mental health, could also be addressed.

 

Hipkins said that the Ministry of Education’s current offer, which would put most teachers in the top 20 percent of income earners in New Zealand, and almost all principals in the top ten percent, showed that the government did indeed take teachers’ demands seriously.

 

An independent survey conducted by The Navigators and commissioned by the two unions found that 89% of New Zealanders felt that teachers did need a pay rise and that education spending should be prioritised.

 

No end is in sight for the dispute, as the government has already ruled out additional education spending in the 2019 Budget beyond what they have already proposed to unions.

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