'Come on, Jacinda!': Teachers march over pay and conditions

Dunedin primary and intermediate teachers and principals have held a five-minute silence in the Octagon as part of their strike action.

NZEI Te Riu Roa national president Lynda Stuart. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
NZEI Te Riu Roa national president Lynda Stuart. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
NZEI Te Riu Roa national president Lynda Stuart was among about 600 teachers and principals who met at the  Regent Theatre this morning to discuss the Ministry of Education's latest pay offer.

Following the meeting, about 1000 people including teachers and their supporters gathered in the Octagon to demonstrate.

The five-minute silence aimed to emphasise the point that actions speak louder than words, the crowd was told.

Carisbrook School principal Ben Sincock believed too much media coverage had gone towards the pay rise.

"For us, it's about more learning support for our students, it's about more release time for our teachers to support these students.

"There's more and more students arriving in schools with needs - whether they be behavioural, learning, social or emotional - and there's just not the resourcing there from the Government or the ministry to support those kids.

"We definitely don't want the money that is allocated, going to the Ministry of Education for expertise.

"As a principal, I want more money within the school to support students with their learning, behavioural and emotional support at school."

Ms Stuart said a vote on the offer was expected to take place in the next couple of weeks.

Teachers gathered at the Regent Theatre this morning. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Teachers gathered at the Regent Theatre this morning. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
The $698 million pay offer is an increase of $129 million from the previous offer. 

It includes a 3% pay increase to teachers' base salaries each year for the next three years; an additional step at the top of the pay scale and an increase to the maximum base salary for all qualification groups; a significant investment in learning support to address both the needs of children, increase teacher supply and ease workload on teachers; and a one-off gross payment of $500 for all NZEI Te Riu Roa members.
 

Teachers have said their fight is not all about pay. Rather, the sticking point is that the new offer did not address workload and teacher release conditions.

Wakatipu teachers met at St Peter's Church Hall in Queenstown. Photo: Guy Williams
Wakatipu teachers met at St Peter's Church Hall in Queenstown. Photo: Guy Williams
MEETINGS HELD THROUGHOUT SOUTH

Other meetings were being held this morning in Balclutha, Queenstown, Wanaka, Invercargill, Oamaru, Gore and Alexandra. Similar demonstrations would take place throughout the Southern region.

In Queenstown, about 100 primary school teachers from the Wakatipu gathered at the St Peter's Church Hall to discuss the latest pay offer this morning.

NZEI national secretary Paul Goulter told them they were "going into battle again", with the main issue the teacher staffing crisis.

The latest offer from the Government did not resolve the problems of teacher recruitment, retention and workload, Mr Goulter said.

The teachers would hold a protest on the Village Green after the meeting.

Eighty primary school teachers and principals from the extended South Otago region gathered in Balclutha to discuss their options and make recommendations to the NZEI about the ongoing pay dispute.

Following the meeting the 80 members and supporters, which included partners and children, marched down to the plaza area of Balclutha to air their concerns publicly.

Organiser Mary Munro said it was a good opportunity for them all to get together because of the widely scattered nature of school locations in the Clutha District.

After the meeting about 100 primary teachers have hit the streets in Oamaru demanding changed...
After the meeting about 100 primary teachers have hit the streets in Oamaru demanding changed work conditions. Photo: Hamish MacLean
North Otago primary teachers filled the 101-seat ODT InkBox  at the Oamaru Opera House for an 80-minute NZEI meeting.

After the meeting about 100 primary teachers have hit the streets demanding changed work conditions.

Calls for more teachers were followed by "Come on, Jacinda. We want it now!"

Behavioural and learning issues have also been highlighted.

About 50 primary school teachers from the Upper Clutha gathered at the Lake Wanaka Centre this morning before marching through the streets of the town centre.

Wanaka Primary School principal Wendy Bamford said the strikes were about more than just a pay rise, noting the need for specialist teachers, more release time and the ability to retain teachers in the profession.

"At the moment, we're not valued, we're just seen as glorified babysitters," she said. 

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

- additional reporting by Guy Williams, John Cosgrove, Hamish MacLean and Sean Nugent

 

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