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Schools closed for strike action

Teachers push their cause in Masterton’s town square on Wednesday morning. PHOTO/ELI HILL

Close to 100 teachers from primary and secondary schools around Wairarapa ditched their classrooms and picked up picket signs when they gathered in Masterton’s Town Square on Wednesday.

Wairarapa regional Post Primary Teachers Association chairman Evan Jones said they’d had a strong turnout and plenty of support from the public for their latest strike.

“We’ve had great support from truckers and tradies and professional people, mums and dads. There have been plenty of people honking their horns as they pass.

“Most schools in Wairarapa have closed for the strikes.”

A smaller picket was also formed in the Featherston Town Centre which Jones said was attended by ‘around a dozen’ teachers who lived nearby.

After picketing for two hours, New Zealand Educational Institute members – primary school teachers – boarded a bus for Wellington to march on Parliament.

Back in Wairarapa PPTA and Kura Kaupapa teachers continued their strikes until midday.

The latest action was part of the largest educational strike in New Zealand’s history.

Negotiations between NZEI and the ministry began last year, and the first teachers strike was held on August 15, with teachers carrying out rolling strikes throughout November.

This is the PPTA’s first strike of the campaign and it is the first time all teachers in the compulsory schooling sector have taken strike action simultaneously.

Both groups have refused to settle for three pay rises of three per cent each and their talks with the ministry have been deadlocked for months.

The government has insisted it will not increase the total value of its offers, which it said were more than $1.2 billion over four years. But it says it is willing to rearrange how the money might be applied to pay rises and staff claims.

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