National | Education

Primary teachers and principals vote to strike

Frustrated primary teachers and principals have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a three-hour work stoppage on August 15, and are discussing whether to extend the strike to a full day.

The strike will be the first industrial action taken by teachers and principals in 14 years, says lead negotiator for principals Louise Green.

“The fact that we are taking such a step shows the grave concerns we have for the future of quality public education. The Government needs to take some courageous decisions now for the sake of children and their learning.”

According to NZEI Te Riu Roa principals and teachers recently asked for more time to teach and lead, more support for children with additional learning needs and a pay jolt to stem the teacher shortage.

Instead, the majority of teachers, about 86 per cent, were offered a pay rise ranging from about 2.2 to 2.6 per cent a year for three years, and 12 minutes extra a week of time to work individually with children or plan and assess learning.

The offer was far from the 16 per cent pay rise over two years that members had identified as being necessary to address recruitment and retention issues that had grown during the term of the previous National government.

Lead negotiator for teachers Liam Rutherford says there was a growing sense that the current crisis would become a disaster if the Government did not get serious about the issues facing the profession.

“At many of the meetings, members felt that a stoppage from 1.30 to 4.30pm did not send a strong enough message, and there were many calls for the strike to be for a full day.”

In response, NZEI’s National Executive is now calling for member feedback on whether to extend the strike, which may result in an electronic ballot being held at the beginning of next term, Rutherford says.