50,000 educators to strike on Thursday

Protest follows series of failed talks over past months between unions, government

50,000 educators to strike on Thursday

Around 50,000 educators will be holding a nationwide strike on Thursday after unions and the government failed to see eye to eye on a new collective agreement for teachers.

The industrial action will be carried out by the Post Primary Teachers' Association (PTPA) and the New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI), which have combined members of up to 66,000.

The strike comes after the government's failure in its last-ditch attempt to negotiate with the unions this week after not reaching an agreement since last year.

"Despite best efforts, the ministry and NZEI Te Riu Roa have not reached an agreement to avoid the primary school teachers' one-day strike planned for Thursday. The discussions were constructive," said Mark Williamson, general manager of employment relations at the Ministry of Education, as quoted by Stuff.

A separate statement from NZEI president Mark Potter said while the discussions were "worthwhile," there was no formal offer movement on the government's pay offer.

"Ultimately, no offer was tabled by the ministry," Potter said as quoted by Stuff.

Union demands

The strike was announced by the PTPA as early as February, noting that negotiations have been ongoing since May last year.

"There has been plenty of time for the government to make us an acceptable offer. Sadly, that hasn't happened," said PPTA Te Wehengarua acting president Chris Abercrombie back in February.

PPTA members said they want more guidance staff to work with amid growing shortage due to mental health and societal issues, greater recognition of kaiako Māori, as well as effective controls on workload.

For NZEI members, they have been calling on the government to provide additional sick leave, scrap the pay cap for relief teachers, and pay recognition of kaiako Māori and head and senior teachers.

Both unions also called for a salary increase that matched inflation, which in New Zealand is at 7.2% in the 12 months to December 2022, according to Stats NZ data.

The NZEI previously held a meeting across the country to discuss the Ministry of Education's second offer to them - but it was rejected as members voted for industrial action, Stuff reported.

This is the second time that educators will hold a strike after carrying out one in May 2019, where around 50,000 primary and secondary teachers also walked off the job after rejecting pay improvement packages from the government.

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