Teachers' strikes end following talks with minister but will return

Teachers agreed to suspend industrial action after a meeting with Education Minister Jan Tinetti last week but are now saying they will strike the day after and agreement to hold off ends.

In a brief statement, Tinetti had said the meeting between the NZEI, PPTA and the Ministry of Education was "constructive" and all sides showed a "willingness to work towards a solution".

Members of PPTA, the union representing secondary school teachers, have been undertaking a series of rolling strikes since the beginning of Term 2 and were scheduled to refuse to teach Year 11 students this Thursday and Year 13 Students on Tuesday. Those were suspended.

Primary and area school principals had also refused to carry out work involving the ministry.

A vote by NZEI members on whether to continue strike action started before Friday's meeting took place. It closed on Monday evening, with members voting to return to strike the day after the agreement ends. A ban on meetings outside of 8.30am-4.30pm will also take place throughout the month of May.

The agreement reached on Friday at the meeting facilitated by Tinetti, herself a former teacher and principal, is valid until May 30 unless further agreed, and can be extended further if all parties agree. It will see all current industrial action stopped while the agreement is in place. The ministry will work urgently to explore new options for a new offer.

'Not just about money'

Secondary school staff have already held multiple one-day rolling strikes this term and two nationwide strikes in March, including one where they were joined by NZEI members including kindergarten teachers.

At the time, Anneke Brouwer, a first-year teacher in a Māori medium classroom at Newton Central School told the breakdown in negotiations was not just about money.

"It's not just about pay. We are doing this because our work conditions are exhausting.

"There is a lot of work to lift them up. We need more support staff to help support us. We are only one among 20 to 30 kids in a classroom and there is only so much we can do."

Kindergarten teachers earlier this month accepted an offer, understood to be similar to one offered to primary teachers, while their primary colleagues refused it.

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