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Area schools vote on whether to join strike

Another 2300 teachers will vote this week on whether to join their primary and secondary colleagues in a nationwide strike on 29 May.

Area school teachers teach in schools with students from primary age through to secondary, and are jointly represented by NZEI Te Riu Roa and PPTA in collective agreement negotiations. After four days of talks with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry has not put forward an offer.

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Lynda Stuart said area school teachers faced the same issues as their primary and secondary counterparts – excessive workload, lack of support for children with additional learning needs, and low pay.

“The feedback in recent paid union meetings was that they were keen to join their colleagues in strike action on 29 May if an offer was not forthcoming. Online voting begins today and will close at 6pm on Wednesday, with the outcome announced on Thursday.”

PPTA President Jack Boyle said, “The issues facing area school teachers are the same as for every other teacher in New Zealand. Teachers are dealing with excessive workloads, long hours, unnecessary red tape and box ticking – and a salary that’s turning people away from the profession.

“It’s no surprise that this group of teachers wants to ballot for industrial action in support of their claims; alongside their colleagues around the country.”

Area school teacher Lagi Leilua is on the NZEI/PPTA negotiation team and said the Ministry’s failure to put forward an offer was disrespectful to area school teachers.

“Our collective agreement expired six weeks ago, on 7 April, we’ve had four days of negotiations, and now nothing from the Ministry.

“Area school teachers are suffering unsustainable workloads and we need pay and conditions that will keep and attract people into the profession. We want action, and that may well mean joining our primary and secondary colleagues in the streets on 29 May,” she said.

There are 136 area schools in New Zealand. Most are kura kaupapa Māori or wharekura, in rural areas, or urban composite schools with students from primary to secondary.

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