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Teachers on strike as inflation bites

Regular toots from passing cars told teachers they were not alone while striking outside Labour MP Kieran McAnulty’s office in Masterton yesterday morning.

Just two days after the Ministry of Education presented the Post Primary Teachers’ Association with a new offer, teachers were on the streets saying it’s not enough.

Association regional chairperson Ryan McCroskery did not see how the new offer solved teachers’ issues.

“I don’t think it’s good faith, to be honest,” he said. “Are they really trying to address the problem?

“What we want is very reasonable; what we want is to have teachers in class.”

McCroskery pointed to some worrying statistics: 10 years ago, there were 10 New Zealand applicants per teaching job; two years ago there were 3.5; now the number of applicants per job is down to 1.6.

“And that’s an average – which means there are jobs out there that no one is applying for,” McCroskery said.

“We know that classes are being merged or cancelled. Teachers are teaching subjects that they are not specialists in. That’s going to have long-term effects on education.”

Makoura College deputy principal Dan Hrstich echoed those concerns about the future repercussions of not investing enough in education.

“What about in 10 years’ time when the older teachers have left, and we haven’t sustained the profession?” he asked.

McCroskery also claimed that a major reason it’s hard to both attract and retain teachers is that they’re right on the breadline.

“Overall, we need to get the offer that makes people want to stay in the profession. I think we are at a critical step here. We don’t have enough teachers in the classrooms.”

McCroskery said he hopes the government comes back with an offer that matches the actual cost of living.

Wairarapa College teacher Richard Wallis agreed, saying all teachers are asking for is that the government match inflation.

“We are not asking for a huge jump, we just want to catch up,” he said.

“We are tired of the ministry rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.”

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