Support in South for teachers' cause

More than 2000 principals, teachers, parents and children march along George St, Dunedin, as part of the nationwide teachers' strike yesterday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
More than 2000 principals, teachers, parents and children march along George St, Dunedin, as part of the nationwide teachers' strike yesterday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Roxburgh: Teachers and supporters from Millers Flat School and Roxburgh Area School take to the street in Roxburgh. Photo: Simon Henderson
Roxburgh: Teachers and supporters from Millers Flat School and Roxburgh Area School take to the street in Roxburgh. Photo: Simon Henderson
Gore: About 150 teachers and supporters - including 25 children - gather and march in Gore's Main St. Photo: Sandy Eggleston
Gore: About 150 teachers and supporters - including 25 children - gather and march in Gore's Main St. Photo: Sandy Eggleston
Invercargill: Teachers, children and supporters protest in Invercargill's main streets. Photo:...
Invercargill: Teachers, children and supporters protest in Invercargill's main streets. Photo: Jono Edwards
Alexandra: Nearly 100 school staff from Alexandra and Clyde exhibit banners in full view of motorists yesterday. Photo: Adam Burns
Alexandra: Nearly 100 school staff from Alexandra and Clyde exhibit banners in full view of motorists yesterday. Photo: Adam Burns
Oamaru: Staff from about 20 North Otago primary and secondary schools protest at George Jones...
Oamaru: Staff from about 20 North Otago primary and secondary schools protest at George Jones Park in Oamaru. Photo: Hamish MacLean
Wanaka: About 100 teachers gathered on the corner of Ardmore and Helwick Sts in Wanaka. Photo: Kerrie Waterworth
Wanaka: About 100 teachers gathered on the corner of Ardmore and Helwick Sts in Wanaka. Photo: Kerrie Waterworth

 

Some may think yesterday's national teachers' strike was ''a cruisy day off work'' for educators, but the reality is quite different.

Otago Primary Principals' Association chairman Christopher McKinlay said, theoretically, teachers from Otago and Southland's 232 schools were supposed to take the day off and avoid any classroom-related work.

''But I do personally believe there will be a number of teachers who will work [from home].''

He said many would have spent part of their day catching up on pupil assessments, lesson plans and other administrative tasks.

''The long weekend is coming up. If they don't do it now, that's when they are going to be doing it.''

It is a sign of the workload and stress many teachers face on a daily basis.

More than 2000 vocal Dunedin and Clutha district principals, teachers, parents and children chanted ''fund our future'' while marching up George St in Dunedin, as part of the largest strike in New Zealand's education history.

Hundreds more marched around the South.

In Dunedin, a long line of union delegates and teachers gave speeches in the Octagon, calling for the Government to address education issues which included pay, workload, class sizes and the struggle to attract people to the teaching profession.

''What we want is for our students to have the educational opportunities that they need and deserve with great well-trained and well-supported teachers to provide these opportunities,'' Post Primary Teachers' Association Otago regional chairwoman Pauline McNeill said.

''For 2019 to truly deliver, we need our fair claims to be addressed and all of our collective agreements settled.

''Together, we can bring out the best.''

It was stated the sector was in crisis, and in three years half of the teachers present would no longer be working in the profession, meaning there would not be enough teachers to meet demand.

Many said teachers had come too far to turn back now, and when the crowd was asked, ''Are we going away? Are we giving up?'', the answer was a resounding ''No''.

Around the region, the same message was heard from hundreds of teachers and their supporters, many holding signs and banners and cheering as passing drivers tooted their vehicles' horns in support.

In Invercargill, 600 people gathered outside the Civic Theatre, before marching around several central city blocks.

James Hargest College teacher Rosie Shanks said she wanted better support so she could spend more time raising her own children.

''You spend a day in my job and see if you want more pay.''

About 150 gathered in Gore, about 100 at Wanaka's waterfront and another 100 in Frankton.

In Oamaru, 170 people, representing 20 Waitaki schools, gathered at George Jones Park.

NZEI Waitaki branch president Brent Godfery, principal at Pembroke School, in Oamaru, said with current workloads and lack of incentive for new teachers, he feared if he lost any of his 16 teachers, he would struggle to replace them.

In Central Otago, there were noisy gatherings in Roxburgh, Alexandra and Cromwell.

In Alexandra, Dunstan High School teacher Laura Boulton said it took a lot to remove teachers from classrooms.

''That's not what we're made to do. We want to be in front of our kids.''

Ministry deputy secretary Ellen MacGregor-Reid said the Employment Relations Authority had accepted its application for facilitated bargaining with the PPTA, but the PPTA advised yesterday it would file a further objection today.

The New Zealand Educational Institute has also now filed an objection to facilitated bargaining.

''We are waiting to hear from ERA about next steps for discussions with each union.''

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