Tomorrow up to 1200 teachers and principals around Rotorua will band together for a historic mega-strike as they call for better working conditions, resources and pay.
The Ministry of Education revealed the Bay of Plenty has the second highest percentage of schools closing for the day in the country with 80.9 per cent of schools set to shut.
This will affect all Government-funded schools in Rotorua and 55,043 students in the Bay of Plenty region.
The strike is about pay and workload, but primary and secondary teachers, represented by the New Zealand Education Institute (NZEI) and Post-Primary Teachers' Association (PPTA) respectively, place different weightings on the two issues.
The Ministry of Education has offered both unions pay rises of 3 per cent a year for three years, plus an extra step at the top of salary scales that would take the total pay rise for a majority of teachers to 12.6 per cent over three years.
It has also offered cash in lieu of back-pay of $500 to each primary teacher and $1000 to each secondary teacher.
The Government's offer is a $1.2 billion deal over four years, which Education Minister Chris Hipkins said would bring teachers into the top 20 per cent of income earners.
The mega-strike in Rotorua
Teachers and principals will picket outside Rotorua Boys' High School and the Te Ngae Rd and Tarawera Rd roundabouts.
Placards and banner have been months in the making with primary school staff preparing since last year and secondary schools in Rotorua joining in March.
A formal welcoming, waiata and speeches will be held for 45 minutes on the Village Green on the corner of Memorial Drive and Whakaue St.
NZEI national representative Paeone Goonan and PPTA member and Rotorua Boys' High School teacher Glenn Cassidy will speak on the day.
Goonan said she hoped the Government would listen to what they had been asking to improve: time, resources and a pay jolt.
NZEI Rotorua branch manager and Mamaku School teacher Joanne Collyer will MC the day and said teachers were sacrificing their income to strike which showed the gravity of what they felt.
"It will be a very historic moment in the history of education in Aotearoa."
A march will then move from the Village Green up the sidewalk on Fenton St, turning right onto Amohau St. The will turn right again at Spotlight onto Ranolf St and finish at Kuirau Park.
"We are dedicated to ensuring better funding for our tamariki and doing whatever it takes to get a fair deal," Collyer said.
Parents and their children are welcome but all children need to be supervised at the event.
Why are primary teachers striking?
The NZEI said primary teachers wanted to double non-contact time to two hours a week, reduce class sizes, increase resource teachers and a special needs co-ordinator (Senco) in every school.
The ministry offered an extra 15 minutes a week of non-contact time for the next three years. It said class sizes and Senco roles should not be decided in industrial talks and noted the Government had approved 600 extra Senco roles from next year.
NZEI president Lynda Stuart said pay was still an issue for primary teachers because their last pay deal expired earlier than the secondary teachers.
The ministry is offering exactly the same percentage increases to both unions which would not close the gap, although it says this is balanced by other concessions such as lifting the pay for primary teachers who did not have degrees by much more than the standard 3 per cent a year.
Why are the secondary teachers striking?
Post Primary Teachers' Association (PPTA) president Jack Boyle said the main reason was workload.
PPTA wants an extra hour of non-classroom time for all secondary teachers, lifting non-contact time from five hours to six hours a week. It also wants additional extra non-contact time for middle managers.