Thousands of ECE educators have joined primary and area schools’ teachers and principals in rejecting their government offer.
The decision was announced by NZEI Te Riu Roa in a press release on the morning of December 2, within days of primary and area schools’ teachers’ and principals’ respective announcements. The rejections follow a series of paid union meetings held across the country in the past two weeks.
The “vast majority” of those covered by NZEI Te Riu Roa’s Kindergarten Teachers’ Collective Agreement voted against the offer, said union president Liam Rutherford.
“Their offer does not meet the rising cost of living and does not address many of the issues that are most important to them,” Rutherford continued.
The feedback given by early childhood educators mirrors the criticism levelled at government offers for primary and area schools’ teachers and principals.
Rutherford states the claims put forward by kindergarten teachers include “additional and disregarded sick leave, removing the pay cap for relief teachers, and recognition of the experience and expertise of kaiako Māori”.
Rutherford says these claims were not addressed in the offer from the ministry.
As with their primary colleagues, kindergarten teachers have discussed next steps, including the possibility of industrial action if an improved offer is not tabled.
Rutherford noted that “the importance of [ECE] has only been emphasised during the pandemic,” and teachers would like to see their roles “properly valued and supported”.
With kindergarten teachers joining their primary and area schools colleagues in rejecting their offer, NZEI Te Riu Roa members are said by Rutherford to be “collectively… sending the message to the Government that they need to take action now and improve their offers”.