Teachers look for 'bold change'

Dozens of teachers on strike in Queenstown CBD this morning. Photo: Joshua Walton
Dozens of teachers on strike in Queenstown CBD late last year. Photo: Joshua Walton
It takes bold action to inspire bold change.

That is why thousands of primary, secondary and area school teachers will take to the streets across Otago and Southland on Wednesday, wearing bold colours, holding bright signs and shouting loud slogans as part of the largest strike in New Zealand's education history.

The Post Primary Teachers' Association (PPTA) and the New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) want the Government to make bold changes that will make teaching a valued, respected and sustainable profession.

However, Ministry of Education early learning and student achievement deputy secretary Ellen MacGregor-Reid said striking when more than $1.2 billion in pay offers was on the table did not offer a solution.

"Instead, it will cause disruption to the learning of many thousands of children and young people, as well as causing significant inconvenience for families and employers.

"Facilitated bargaining through the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) is the strongest form of assistance available to reach a negotiated settlement."

The ERA has accepted the ministry's application for facilitated bargaining with the PPTA, and the ministry is awaiting dates.

The ministry is also waiting to hear from the ERA about facilitated bargaining with NZEI.

"We encourage schools to try and remain open during the strike. However, boards of trustees need to decide whether they can do that and keep children safe," she said. "Parents will need to check what is happening at their school."

Abbotsford School principal and NZEI Principals Council Otago representative Stephanie Madden said teachers did not want to be on strike

but felt there were no other options.

NZEI campaign director Stephanie Mills said nearly 50,000 secondary and primary teachers across the country faced the same overarching problems.

"Chronic underfunding of education over the last decade has left teachers underpaid and overworked, which means more teachers than ever are leaving the profession.

"This isn't just about teachers' livelihoods. This is about the future of our children's education.

"Teachers are looking to the Government to make a bold change."

NZEI and PPTA joint strike activities 

Otago and Southland on May 29:

Dunedin: Noon-2pm: March from the University of Otago Dental School to Octagon. Buses will also bring staff from
schools in Balclutha and Milton.

Oamaru: 11.45am-2pm: Rallying at Oamaru Courthouse.

Queenstown: 10.30am-11.30am: March from Queenstown Events Centre courts to Frankton roadside and roundabout area.

Wanaka: 11am-noon: Rallying at lakefront.

Cromwell: Noon-1pm: Picketing at Cromwell fruit sculpture.

Roxburgh: 9.30am-11am: March from Roxburgh Area School through main street of Roxburgh.

Gore: 11am-1pm: Rally at ram statue before visiting other landmarks around the town.

Invercargill: Rally at the steps of the Civic Theatre before dispersing to various points around the city.



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