Thousands of Teachers Strike across New Zealand

More than 50,000 primary and high school teachers have left classrooms today and held placards for better pay and work conditions. This is the biggest ever simultaneous industrial action by teachers to protest the Government’s latest pay offer.

NZ Educational Institute president Lynda Stuart told about 8000 teachers and supporters who packed into Auckland’s Aotea Square that “we have come too far not to go further”.

The Ministry of Education says 1424 schools have now notified the ministry that they will be closed today because of the teachers’ strike.

Wainuiomata Primary School deputy principal and NZEI negotiator Tute Porter-Samuels addressed the rally saying primary and secondary teachers stood today in unity. “This is our day … to hold this Government to account for a more sustainable education system.”

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said, “In the lead-up to the “mega-strike” Hipkins said the offer to primary and secondary teachers worth $1.2 billion over four years would not be increased.

Hipkins said the offer to teachers was “very significant”, “the largest that they’ve had in over a decade”. He has previously acknowledged the importance of pay for teachers but explained their current demands would cost the Government almost $4 billion.

Negotiations for primary teachers began in May last year and April for principals. New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) Te Riu Roa members then went on to strike on August 15, 2018, and again with rolling-strikes between November 12-16.

Lynda Stuart, president of NZEI Te Riu Roa said, “Teachers were being forced to care for too many students, and were bogged down by excessive paperwork, pastoral care obligations, large class sizes and not enough funding for special needs students’.

Parents around New Zealand say they support the strike despite the impact it’s had on their work and families. Newshub features editor Rhonwyn Newson says, “I used some of my leave only a few weeks ago when teachers attended a union meeting.

“We hope the Government pays attention to teachers and negotiates not only higher pay, but more classroom support and less contact time with kids.”

>Juthy Saha

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