Primary teachers and principals have begun to vote on whether to undertake a week of strike action in November.
The ballot follows the rejection of the Ministry of Education’s latest offers to teachers and principals in September, which NZEI Te Riu Roa members said failed to adequately address the crisis in education.
NZEI Te Riu Roa President Lynda Stuart said the Government still has the ability to avert potential strike action if it comes back with an improved offer.
“Strike action is always a last resort. If the Government comes back with an improved offer that our members feel genuinely addresses the education crisis, the disruption of a strike could be avoided,” Ms Stuart said. “However, if teachers are forced to take strike action, it is clear that they continue to have the public’s strong support. Parents understand that ultimately this is all about the future of their children’s education.”
The secret online ballot will run from Tuesday 16 October until Thursday 25 October. Members will be voting on whether to undertake a week of rolling one-day strikes from Monday 12 November to Friday 16 November, with strikes falling on different days throughout the country.
Ms Stuart welcomed the Government’s move to alleviate the teacher shortage with overseas recruitment, but said the only way to fix the problem long-term was to make teaching an attractive and sustainable career choice.
“We’re glad the Education Minister has admitted there is a crisis in education – but it’s only his Government that has the power to fix it,” said Ms Stuart. “Recruiting from overseas to fill the immediate shortfall will help, but it is a band-aid solution. The Ministry’s own research shows only 16% of youth in New Zealand think teaching is an appealing profession. It’s clear that the only way to solve the shortage long-term will be to turn that around.”
If members vote to approve strike action, the following days have been set:
Potential strike dates
• Auckland Region – Monday 12 November
• North Island (except Auckland and Wellington) – Tuesday 13 November
• Wider Christchurch area (including Ellesmere, Ashley, Mid-Canterbury, Malvern, Hurunui) – Wednesday 14 November
• South Island (except Christchurch) – Thursday 15 November
• Wellington Region – Friday 16 November