Strike Action – NZEI Te Riu Roa

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Following a vote from NZEI Te Riu Roa members, NZEI advised on 16 October to all employers party to the Early Childhood Education Collective Agreement 2023 (ECECA), that a strike will take place. This affects around 100 Early Childhood Centres whose NZEI members will be striking from 1pm to 8pm on Wednesday 08 November. This could mean that some centres need to close or reduce their numbers.

“The employer group we represent in the ECECA negotiations,” says Kathy Wolfe, Chief Executive of Te Rito Maioha, “overwhelmingly say they want to pay their teachers more, acknowledge their true value, and that this starts with pay parity.”

“Unfortunately, the government funding provided to employers falls well short of this, meaning that in most cases they cannot afford to offer their teachers full parity without significantly increasing fees to parents.”

“Te Rito Maioha has been advocating strongly to the previous government to improve Early Childhood Education (ECE) funding, because we are very aware of the challenges and inequities this lack of funding causes, especially relating to pay parity rates.”

The employers we represent agree with the message that NZEI Te Riu Roa and their members are wishing to deliver to the government, ie:

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• Additional funding is required to support full pay parity

• A funding system that supports and encourages high quality ECE is required

• Improved teacher to child ratios are needed

“Strike action is a last resort, and employers are required, and will support their employees who are NZEI Te Riu Roa members with the strike action. However, employers acknowledge and feel saddened about any disruption this may cause their ECE education and care service, whānau and wider community.”

“While many employers are sympathetic to this action, no-one had hoped that industrial action would be an outcome of this process, however NZEI Te Riu Roa and their members feel they have no other option.”

“Te Rito Maioha has consistently been calling on the previous government to address the main issues affecting ECE in Aotearoa. This should be a priority for the incoming government to ensure ECE is able to meet the needs of every tamariki and their whānau in their community. This has a huge economic benefit for everyone.” says Mrs Wolfe.

Te Rito Maioha is calling on the new government to:

· Urgently implement an independent funding review in partnership with the sector to replace the outdated, dysfunctional ECE funding model so we can meet the real needs of today’s working whānau, tamariki and ECE services. This must occur now.

· Fund ECE services sufficiently to deliver full pay parity for kaiako and high quality education to tamariki without centres needing to charge high fees to parents.

· Tackle teacher shortages with a meaningful Education Workforce Strategy and action plan to attract, retain and develop a professional, culturally responsive ECE teaching workforce from within Aotearoa New Zealand.

· Improve child-teacher ratios – so that tamariki can thrive, learn and be safe with quality education and attention from teachers.

· Simplify regulations to support quality education delivery without over-burdening ECE services with labour-intensive administration demands from multiple agencies.

· Invest appropriately in initial teacher education to help address teacher shortages and keep this as a priority group.