Secondary and area school teachers to strike again next week

Fri, Mar 24

Secondary school and area school teachers have "voted overwhelmingly" to strike again next Wednesday.

However, the NZEI, which represents 45,000 primary and kindergarten teachers, says its members will not strike next week after participating in last week's historic strike.

Rolling strikes by secondary and area school teachers are also expected next Term 2, with different year levels being told to go home striking at different times depending on regions.

Primary, secondary, and kindergarten teachers striked over working conditions last Thursday after pay negotiations broke down with the Ministry of Education. In response, Education Minister Jan Tinetti told teachers that the Government "can do better".

But this week, Post Primary Teachers' Association (PPTA) members have voted in an electronic ballot for a one-day national strike next Wednesday, March 29.

The union's acting president says members are showing they're "serious" about getting better working conditions.

"The results of the ballot show clearly that members believe the time for words from the Government has passed,” says PPTA acting president Chris Abercrombie.

"Members have shown they are serious about getting a new collective agreement with salaries and conditions that will stem the worsening secondary teacher shortage throughout the motu."

In the second week of next term, members will put in place a plan to roster different year levels of students home on various days for four weeks, according to the PPTA.

"In the third week of Term 2, the week beginning May 8, rolling strikes will be held, where teachers will strike on different days in different regions starting at one end of the motu and finishing at the other."

From late April on the first day of the next school term, union members will also not attend meetings outside school hours.

"Members will also continue to refuse to give up their scheduled planning and marking time to relieve for absent teachers or positions that are vacant.

“Teachers would much prefer to be teaching in a settled environment this year, rather than taking extensive industrial action.

“However, we cannot stand by when the future of secondary education is at stake.”

In its media release announcing the strikes, the PPTA said it needed additional guarantees from the Government alongside better pay and conditions.

“We need a commitment from the Government to collective agreements that will ensure students have specialist teachers for every subject.

“We need pay and conditions that will keep teachers in the classroom, attract graduates into teaching and encourage ex-teachers to return to the profession.”

Abercrombie said the PPTA and Ministry of Education had been in mediation over the last week and were meeting again today. He said the union's national executive will meet tomorrow to assess progress across the union’s claims.

“If we think there is a genuine pathway to an agreement that members would vote for, then we would consider calling off next week’s strike – it is in the Government’s hands."

Ministry responds

Mark Williamson of the Ministry of Education said the strike announcement was "disappointing" given mediation continues.

"Both parties have agreed that good progress has been made in the two days of mediation we have already had since the strike last Thursday. We will continue to bargain in good faith today.

"We are bargaining with NZEI Te Riu Roa regarding the primary teachers’ collective next Wednesday, 29 March.”


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