Teachers’ strike a bitter pill to swallow for some parents after disruptions


2023-03-10 13:52:22

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Primary and secondary school teachers have taken industrial action on the same day only once before, in May 2019.
Photo: RNZ / Lois Williams

Parents appear to have mixed views about the prospect of a one-day mega-strike by 50,000 school and kindergarten teachers closing hundreds of schools next week.

Members of the Post Primary Teachers Association and the Educational Institute said the Education Ministry’s offer of a $6000 pay rise over two years was not good enough and they would strike on Thursday.

They warned teachers were burnt out and needed pay and conditions that would keep them in the job and attract others to the profession.

Primary and secondary school teachers have struck on the same day only once before, in May 2019, when they enjoyed a high-level of public support and closed about half of the country’s schools.

This year’s strike comes after three years of pandemic-driven disruptions and soon after cyclone-related school closures in parts of the North Island.

The unions said schools in cyclone-damaged regions could opt out.

Parents outside a Napier primary school had mixed views about the potential for more disruption.

“Quite terrible really, because of [cyclone] Gabrielle and everything else, our kids aren’t going to school at all, so a strike is not a good idea,” one mother told RNZ.

“It’s not ideal timing but I do support the teachers and think they should be getting paid more,” said another.

Auckland parent Toni Paget said she was 100 percent behind the teachers but she was not happy about the prospect of a strike next week.

“I support them but at the same time, I’m a single mum, I’ve got three kids at school, and I have no family around, so it’s either ask my friends to watch my children or I take a day off work, which I can’t afford,” she said.

Union members, like kindergarten teacher Jess Duff, said teachers were not taking action lightly.

Duff said they were burnt out and needed a break.

“We’ve had a really hard few years. Covid especially really highlighted a lot of issues that have really led to teachers feeling burnt out and undervalued, in desperate need of more sick days,” she said.

Education Ministry employment relations and pay equity general manager Mark Williamson said it had made good offers to the unions.

“We made an offer which lifts teachers’ remuneration to $97,000, and it does also lift remuneration of relief teachers. And at the same time we also addressed the other conditions which NZEI raised with us as the key things their members needed to see in this settlement,” he said.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins – the former education minister – said he wanted teachers to call off their strike.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins
Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

“I would much rather have teachers and kids in the classroom. They’ve all missed a lot of time over the last few years, let’s minimise that, let’s keep negotiating, let’s keeping working through the issues that have been raised and find ways to resolve them,” he said.

PPTA vice-president Chris Abercrombie said the government could stop the strike by improving its offer.

“They could stop this today if they wanted to, and so while we’re not happy about the disruption, we feel we have to get the government to listen to us. It is squarely in the government’s court to stop this disruption,” Abercrombie said.

The ministry said it had asked the Educational Institute to resume bargaining urgently, and it had had asked the Employment Relations Authority to facilitate bargaining with the Post Primary Teachers Association as soon as possible.

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Source by [earlynews24.com]