Strike action is a last resort.

It can represent a breakdown in the bargaining process.

Sometimes this extends to one of the parties believing that there has been a breach of the good faith bargaining process.

Sometimes, it is about brinkmanship, one party pushing the other to see if they relent on a key point, or a so-called "bottom line".


Read more: 126 primary schools to close in Hawke's Bay following strike action
Parents tasked with finding alternative childcare options as strike day looms

Wage negotiations were once described to me as a "dance" – moving about, to and fro, taking a while to get to the end point, one party thinking they are seemingly in control, when they aren't. But always a shared conclusion.

Tomorrow, 126 Hawke's Bay schools are going on strike.

That is, unless there was some progress overnight with the threat of a strike imminent.

What do primary teachers achieve by striking?

They make a point.

Striking brings home to mums, dads and caregivers the seriousness of the situation the teachers say they are in.

Any time that a strike impacts directly upon an ordinary person, a reasonable ordinary person is going to say "hang on, what's going on here".


What's going on is that 126 schools will close tomorrow, in support of New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) union members' claim for a 16 per cent pay rise over two years, along with improved working conditions.

For trained teachers, the ministry of education has offered a salary increase ranging from 6.1 percent to 14.7 per cent over three years.

It has been suggested there is an element of catch-up in the union's claim – that a Labour-led coalition is seen as more empathetic to teachers than a National government.

Labour, though, do not want to be seen as a soft touch.

The challenge, though, is that this is a government overseeing delivery of a $1 billion Provincial Growth Fund. Yesterday, within that, another $240 million was announced towards the One Billion Trees programme.

This is a fund that Labour openly says is making up for lost time by investing in regional New Zealand, ignored by previous National governments.

So a starting point of 6.1 per cent for the teachers from the Labour coalition isn't going to cut it.

The end result may not be the 16 per cent the teachers' union wants, but if a negotiation process is indeed a dance, then its Labour who needs to change its tune, before the two parties begin to move in sync.