Primary teachers strike in the South tomorrow

Central Otago teachers strike action outside Pioneer Park, Alexandra. Photo: Pam Jones
Central Otago teachers strike earlier this year outside Pioneer Park, Alexandra. Photo: Pam Jones
Planned protests by primary school teachers will be held around Otago and Southland tomorrow, and more than 1000 demonstrators are expected to gather in the Octagon after considering the latest offer from the Ministry of Education.

Meetings to consider the ministry's $698 millon package, announced last Friday, are scheduled to be held in Dunedin, Balclutha, Queenstown, Wanaka, Invercargill, Oamaru, Gore and Alexandra between 8.30am and 11am as part of a week-long rolling strike.

The Dunedin meeting will be held at 9.30am at the Regent Theatre, before a demonstration in the Octagon.

Otago Primary Principals' Association president Chris McKinlay, of Elmgrove School in Mosgiel, said he was unsure how many people to expect, but at a guess he thought there might be between 1500 and 1800.

''I think there's a little bit of frustration from parents, but generally [they are] very supportive,'' he said.

''They understand why we are doing it, but it's inconvenient for them,'' Mr McKinlay said.

The ministry has said the latest offer entails a pay rise of between $9500 and $11,000 for most teachers within 24 months, as well as a one-off payment of $500.

Chris McKinlay
Chris McKinlay

Balclutha Primary School principal Paddy Ford said there would be a meeting for South Otago teachers at 10am and then a march from the South Otago Town and Country Club to the Balclutha bridge. About 60 primary teachers were expected to turn out.

''[The offer] doesn't address the issues that we have around workload and release time,'' he said.

Alexandra Primary School principal Adele Gott said there would be a meeting in the town's community centre at 10.30am, including teachers from both Alexandra and Cromwell. She was expecting 80 to 100 teachers.

There would also be a march down the main street.

The offer was ''disappointing because [the issues are about] more than money'', Ms Gott said.

Providing enough support for special needs pupils and looking after pupils' emotional wellbeing, as well as dealing with large classes, was something schools struggled with.

Central Otago was no exception, and people tended to forget about it being a growth area, she said.

Primary and secondary teachers' unions have confirmed their leaders will be meeting to discuss a combined campaign, which Ms Gott said was ''very exciting''.

elena.mcphee@odt.co.nz

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