In the 30 years Tina Hodgson has been a teacher her workload has tripled but the most significant pay increase she has seen is 2 per cent.
The Maungatapere School teacher is one of thousands from teachers union NZ Educational Institute (NZEI) calling for a significant pay increase of up to 14 per cent and more time to teach.
"The teaching profession is in crisis, it has been for a long time and we've been ignored by government after government. It's about being valued and our job is very very complex compared to what it used to be 30 years ago. We are sick of children missing out because teachers' workloads are huge," Ms Hodgson said.
Primary and early childhood teachers in NZEI agreed at a conference in Rotorua on Wednesday to hold paid union meetings in the first term of next year to finalise claims for what executive member Liam Rutherford described as a "seismic shift" in pay and conditions for the country's 29,000 primary teachers and principals, whose collective agreements expire in May and June next year.
When Ms Hodgson, who attended the conference, spoke to the Northern Advocate yesterday it was her second day off in 17 days, and last week she worked two 12-hour shifts.
She said a fair pay rise would be a 10 to 14 per cent increase.
The most significant pay increase she has had is 2 per cent but she said her workload has "tripled" since she first came out of teachers' college 30 years ago.
"Now I'm ticking boxes and I'm doing more admin than I am preparation for teaching. Teachers get to work the next day ill-prepared for their teaching but they've been working to 11pm, 12am the night before. It's not lack of hard work, it's getting through the admin, getting through the testing. We need time to teach."
Ms Hodgson said there needed to be a pay increase to attract people, and keep people, in teaching.
"Kids deserve the best people in front of them to do the job. Kids need vibrant, intelligent, switched on, enthused teachers. And you don't get that if you pay pittance. People are leaving teaching in the droves nationwide."
NZEI general secretary Paul Goulter said at the conference: "We will most likely be looking down the barrel of industrial action."
Ms Hodgson said if teachers had to resort to strikes it would be "disappointing".