Primary teachers will still strike on Thursday after today’s meeting between the New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) negotiation team and the Ministry of Education led to a stalemate.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has said the Government wanted to come to an agreement with the union as soon as possible to avoid disruption.
Union President Mark Potter said the conversations were worthwhile but no official offer was offered by the Ministry.
He said today’s talks show the Government and Ministry are better at understanding issues that need addressing - but there still needs to be a significant improvement on previous offers.
NZEI has asked the Ministry to return to the table next week.
Following last week’s strike vote by the teachers’ unions Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) and NZEI, tens of thousands of educators will engage in industrial action.
After rejecting two offers from the Government already, it was predicted that 50,000 teachers will protest in favour of better pay and working conditions.
Due to the majority of personnel being unionised, several schools have already indicated they will be closed on Thursday. Few schools stated that they intended to stay open.
“Secondary teachers want ... pay rates and conditions to keep skilled and experienced teachers in the classroom, make secondary teaching a first choice career and encourage thousands of ex-teachers to return,” the PPTA said.
The strike decision was made after union members “overwhelmingly” rejected Ministry of Education offers.
Potter stated last week that teachers were concerned about rising living expenses, but that union members’ rejection of the Ministry’s offer was not only due to the pay offer.
He noted that money for kindergarten and schools, as well as the number of employees, remained major challenges.
“Of course, the rising cost of living plays into this, but the bigger picture is that if we are to retain and attract quality educators we must improve work conditions in the sector.”
A concerned parent, who wished to remain anonymous, said she was concerned that Thursday’s strike will upset learning further and believed striking was not putting the needs of students first.
“Where are our rights as parents to say no to teacher strikes? Only a few years ago did they get very substantial increases, which was due, but perhaps we should put the needs of our children first. They need education,” she said.
“It has been a very tough three years with covid and... [after the Auckland Anniversary Weekend flooding and Cyclone Gabrielle] our children have lost out on valuable teaching time at school.
“Then there was a half-day union meeting day, teacher-only day and now yet again a teacher strike day,” she said. “When will our children get to have a proper stable education?”
She said her 10-year-old son “cannot write a sentence” because he had a “massive gap in his education” from the intermittent disruptions.
Potter argued their demands were in the interest of students.