50,000 teachers prepare for mega-strike tomorrow

By Jessica Tyson

Close to 50,000 school teachers are set to leave their classrooms and take to the streets tomorrow for the largest ever industrial action by New Zealand teachers.

In order to fix workload pressures, NZEI Te Riu Roa and the Post Primary Teachers' Association (PPTA) have stated numerous times that teachers want more money and bigger pay rises.

NZEI Te Riu Roa president Lynda Stuart says teachers want the government to prioritise addressing the education crisis.

"Giving teachers time to teach, and to lead and ensuring teaching is a viable long-term career choice is essential if children are to get the teaching and learning they deserve, she says.

"We know we have enormous support from parents, and we ask all New Zealanders to support us in our fight for the future of education in New Zealand."

Looking after students out of school

It's expected to be a disruptive day for families and businesses since working parents will need to find ways to accommodate their children who are out of school.

Employers are being advised to allow flexible working arrangements to enable employees to work from home.

Te Riu Roa lead negotiator Liam Rutherford says, “We’ve heard of examples where families are teaming up with each other to share the load, or we've got employers who are encouraging them to bring their children to work.

“At the extreme end, we've also had some parents who've said they’re going to take a day’s annual leave and come in and join in with the marchers and the rallies," she says.

The government

Education Minister Chris Hipkins recently told teachers the most recent offer to primary and secondary teachers, worth $1.2 billion over four years, would not be increased.

Meanwhile, National’s education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says Hipkins has “talked up” the latest offer to teachers, stating a significant number of teachers will receive a $10,000 pay rise.

“It’s my understanding that more than 80 percent of secondary teachers will not get $10,000, they will also have to pay tax on any amount that they receive.

“We do not believe this will be resolved by the government sticking its head in the sand,” she says.