Primary teachers and principals have overwhelmingly rejected the latest offers from the Ministry of Education to settle their collective agreements.
NZEI Te Riu Roa president Lynda Stuart said the outcome indicated teachers and principals were united and resolute in their commitment to getting significantly improved pay, time and support for learning needs.
“We will be going straight back to talk to the Government with that message – that it’s time to get really serious about giving us time to teach and lead, and time to take some real steps to make teaching a viable long-term career choice.”
She warned that significant disruption could occur in schools next term if the Government did not focus on finding a solution quickly.
“The solution is in the Government’s hands. We would all prefer to be in our schools focussed on teaching and learning, but members have sent a very clear message that they want to see change now. That’s why our next step is discussions with government to see how we can make progress.”
NZEI’s National Executive agreed over the weekend to call paid union meetings in the second week of next term (May 6-10). If there was no progress made by then, it is proposing that members vote on taking partial strike action by working to rule from May 15th until a national day of strike action on May 29th.
The work to rule would mean working only within 8am-5pm, Monday to Friday.
Teacher leader Margie Askin-Jarden from Christchurch said teachers showed every day and in the most extreme circumstances that they prioritised the care and learning of children.
“But the profession truly is at breaking point. We cannot continue to hold a broken system together because in the end the collateral damage is not just us, it is our children and their learning.
“Teachers in Christchurch know better than most that unless we get more resourcing for children with additional learning needs and address the extreme work and time pressure on teachers, we will continue to lose great teachers and struggle to attract new ones. That’s why teachers and principals in Christchurch voted just as strongly to reject these offers as the rest of the country, and why we support action next term if it is needed.”
Sose Annandale, a principal from Porirua on the principals’ negotiating team, said the outcome was a resounding rejection of the government’s position. The Ministry offers rejected last week were very similar to an offer previously rejected in November because the Government has refused to budge from its “envelope” of $698 million over four years.