Further industrial action likely by teachers

Large numbers of primary and intermediate teachers from around the Eastern Bay gathered in Whakatane yesterday to discuss their dispute with the Ministry of Education.

They're concerned the Ministry's latest offer on pay and conditions is only slightly changed from past ones, and have rejected all of them.

Local teachers spokesperson Peter Fitzgerald says the meeting was very successful.

“The feeling was fairly unanimous that everyone is peeved off at the offer the Government is making.

“Hipkins has been saying the union isn’t negotiating, but we’ve been in negotiations time and time again and we’re going nowhere.”

They now have to wait on the outcome of other NZEI meetings around the country.

However spokesperson Peter Fitzgerald says strike action is on the cards.

“We all voted for a strike on May 29th, but we now have to wait for the results around the country. It’s looking like all schools, primary and secondary, will be striking on that day though.”

The tentative date falls just one day before Budget Day 2019.

In a statement released yesterday the Education Minister Chris Hipkins has reiterated the government has offered primary and secondary school teachers $1.2 billion worth of pay rises and other improvements to their terms and conditions

He says the funds go a considerable way towards addressing teachers’ concerns.

“We’ve been clear the current offers of $698 million for primary school teachers and principals and $496 million for secondary teachers are really good offers and the Government will not be increasing the total amount in this pay round.

“This is by far the biggest offer teachers have had in a decade.”

The Minister says the Government is balancing a range of demands including mental health, poverty alleviation and chronic under funding in health which have built up over nine years under the National-led Government.

“We are also rebuilding education after a decade of underfunding. While we recognise with our offer that improving teachers’ salaries is important, it’s only one part.

“It's also rebuilding education after a decade of underfunding,” says Hipkins.

Sam Gardner