Teachers consider career changes if no better offer

By Jessica Tyson
Thousands march up Queen Street. Source: File

Teachers on strike today say they would consider changing careers if the government doesn’t offer them a higher pay increase.

In its newest offer, the Ministry of Education made a $1.2 billion offer to teachers, including an average salary increase of three per cent a year over three years. However, teachers are asking for a 16 per cent increase over two years.

As a result, close to 50,000 school teachers have taken to the streets around Aotearoa to demand better working conditions and increased salaries.

At a protest in Auckland’s Queen Street, teacher Callie Tamihana says she would definitely look at changing careers.

As a mother, she says working as a teacher doesn't allow her to spend enough time with her whānau.

“I’ve always wanted to work with the kids, so teaching was always an option for me, but at the moment, the way it’s going, I will definitely look at changing careers.”

Callie Tamihana's daughter Jordane was there to tautoko her māmā today. 

Teacher Tina Peters was also one of at least 5,000 people at the Auckland protest today.

“It will be a sad day if I ever change careers because it’s one of the few professions that you actually love what you do, because of the connection you have with your children. And, so if I have to, I have to, but I don’t want to.”

Meanwhile, te reo Māori teacher Sharon Muru says she would not leave the job.

"For me, I choose this wonderful career because the Māori language is important to me.  No matter where, whether it be in a small premise, in an education facility, or even a wharenui, I’m here for any student who wants to learn."

Vince Hapi feels the same.

"We aren’t interested in alternative options. It’s about the teachers and the students and vice versa. We need to work together for everyone to succeed. We need to aim for the best academic achievement."

Where to from here

Te Riu Roa lead negotiator Liam Rutherford says, after today, the union could consider taking further industrial action.

"We are really looking forward to keeping conversations going with the government. We know that they’re interested in getting this resolved, but at the same time members will be considering the next steps, which mean further industrial action."