We have received confirmation that the mega teacher strike is confirmed for May 29th. This means both primary and secondary teachers and primary principals across the country will be on strike.
I continue to be frustrated and saddened by the spin in the media - and from Chris Hipkins (Education Minister) around this issue. The minister just announced $95 million to attract new teachers. This is such a common marketing strategy. Offer a deal to get people to sign up - but don’t look after your existing customers! This $95 million to train new teachers does not stop the flood of teachers quitting. It does not solve the massive percentage of teachers who resign within the first 5 years. It does nothing to value our experienced, hard working teachers. It also does nothing to attract our top students to teaching - we want the best and brightest school leavers to be considering teaching!
Some of the issues that remain for us are:
Primary teachers get 10 hours a term release time. Secondary teachers get 5 hours a week. The lack of release time for primary teachers impacts on the teaching in the classroom - and our students deserve better!
Our collective agreement expired on the 8th of June 2018. The govt is refusing to back pay us if/when an agreement is reached. The govt offered primary teachers a $500 bonus to sign the agreement. They offered secondary teachers $1000.
Teachers should be paid the same for equal qualifications - regardless of the age of the students. The government is refusing to commit to pay parity.
The minister likes to talk about this being a ten thousand dollar payrise. Currently our beginning teachers spend a minimum of 3 years at university and then start on $47980. This offer gives them 3% straight away. So about $1400 before tax - or about $19 a week. This is one of the reasons we have a 40% reduction in people choosing teaching as a career.
Experienced teachers stand to get about $27 a week from this offer. Our agreement expired in June last year, but the Minister is refusing to offer backpay. Therefore - even if they accepted the $27 a week today - they have already lost somewhere in the vicinity of $2000 over the last year through this negotiation - both through strike days and no back pay. So in fact - if we signed today, it would take over a year for us to even make up what we’ve lost.
The support for learners with special needs - both learning and behaviour - is nothing short of pathetic. Limited release for primary teachers means they have no extra time to plan for these learners, or attend meetings, or support whanau.
When Hipkins was in opposition - he talked about how low teacher salaries are, and the need for drastic action in education. Now he is in power - he is facing the largest strike action in memory. All this on the eve of the announcement of their 'Wellbeing Budget"! National’s Nikki Kay is talking about how bad the situation is, and how teachers deserve a pay jolt - but it seems easy to say things in opposition and she forgets that nine years of Nationals neglect fro the public schooling sector has helped put us in this situation.
A decade ago we used to get a 100 applicants for a teaching job. Principals could choose the best candidates to meet the needs of their school. Now - we see vacancies having no applicants at all. We have classes being split because we can’t find a reliever. We see jobs being readvertised over and over again.
We have already battled this process for a year. It has cost teachers thousands - and we seem to have made little headway. We know it’s frustrating for parents - and we hear the messages from the Minister that try to turn the public against us. Please believe me that we are fighting for the education for your children. We have come too far to give up now.
I am forever hopeful that the government will finally be courageous enough to invest properly in education. Step outside the standard and really rattle the cage! Fund us so that we can be world class. Fund us so every student can get the best education possible.
So I understand that May 29th will be inconvenient. I expect it won’t be the last. Please continue to support us by going online and messaging anyone you can think of - Hipkins, Ardern - the Labour govt Facebook page - local MPs - anyone and everyone. Together let us be heard!