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Schools to close doors as teachers go on strike

Most Wairarapa schools will be closed on Thursday after last week’s decision to strike by the primary teacher’s union NZEI Te Riu Roa.

Union members voted last week for a one-day strike on Thursday after rejecting the Ministry of Education’s second offer to settle their collective agreements.

Masterton NZEI spokesperson Peter Mele, who teaches at Hadlow, said MoE’s second settlement offer was very similar to the first and still did little to address primary school teachers’ biggest concerns.

The second offer included a pay increase which did not match inflation, and a small rise in non-contact time, which is the time when teachers are not with pupils.

Currently, primary school teachers get only 10 hours per term of non-contact time, while secondary school teachers get 50 hours.

The ministry’s second offer included increasing non-contact time for primary school teachers from 10 hours to 15 hours per term, still far short of what teachers wanted.

Mele said that a lot of primary school teachers would be happy if they could get parity with secondary school teachers in terms of pay and non-contact time.

NZEI said the striking teachers and principals wanted increased staffing and funding to schools and kindergartens so that teachers could better meet the needs of children and to improve pay offers to attract and retain people in the profession.

NZEI Te Riu Roa president Mark Potter said MoE’s latest offer was not good enough.

“Strike action is the last thing we want to do, but members want to send a message to the government about how serious we are about needing change.”

Union members voted to reject MoE’s first offer last year.

About 30,000 primary and kindergarten teachers and principals will be striking alongside 20,000 secondary school teachers who separately decided to strike last month.

Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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