More members of the the New Zealand Educational Institute union, including those in Rotorua, are set to strike for a day.

New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) Te Riu Roa members who are psychologists, speech language therapists and other learning support specialists, employed directly by the Ministry of Education will strike next Tuesday.

The strike follows a day-long strike featuring more than 30,000 NZEI members around the country last Wednesday.

A secret ballot was held to determine strike action.


In Rotorua there are roughly 15 learning support staff who will meet at Kuirau Park on Tuesday at 11.30am then walk back towards the hospital.

They plan to stand outside the entrance to the hospital and picket and have invited staff from Whakatāne, Taupō and Tauranga as well as other supporters to join them.

Speech and language therapist Kath Phillips works in schools around Rotorua and has been a therapist for more than 20 years.

She said learning support specialists had concerns about caseloads and resourcing for students with additional needs.

"The ministry has made a commitment to look into it but we don't feel they are committed to making a stand."

She said the children who needed support were also becoming more complex and if they didn't get help early on it had a knock-on effect.

"It's not uncommon for children to start school with the language level of ages 2 or 3. That's not uncommon. They can't learn to read or write if they don't have oral language. They fall behind and the spiral continues.

"Teachers are asking for help and we just can't get to them quick enough."


The members striking nationwide provide specialist support to children with high learning needs.

They claim they are dealing with huge caseloads and want an improvement in the ministry's pay offer.

NZEI Te Riu Roa National Executive member Byron Sanders said the strike showed the anger felt about the ministry's offer of a 2 per cent pay increase on the day of ratification and a further 2 per cent on March 1, 2019.

"After months of waiting for the ministry to come to the negotiating table, our members were insulted by the offer. Our caseloads are overwhelming."

The ministry's deputy secretary sector enablement and support, Katrina Casey, said the ministry was committed to progressing negotiations.

She said the ministry employed about 1000 field staff, including psychologists, speech language therapists and early intervention teachers to support students with additional learning needs.

"We are actively working to fill vacancies in areas where there is high demand."

She said the ministry had received funding for more specialists for the severe behaviour service, to reduce waiting lists for early intervention, for ongoing resourcing and for the intensive wrap-around service.

The latest strike will be the third in six weeks after members of the nurses union went on strike on July 12, and principals and teachers on August 15.

The national director of organising for the private sector union E tū, Rachel Mackintosh, said despite the high number of strikes in a short time, they weren't losing effectiveness.

"A strike is always a last resort and designed to move bargaining. If there's nothing more to do across the table it's a fundamental human right.

"People can get hope and optimism from each other's courage that can help people to stand up.

"I don't think there's a dissipating effect, people do it as a last resort and it does move bargaining."

Amalgamated Workers Union organiser Robert Popata agreed strike action was a last resort, and it remained effective.

"It's the only thing that workers have as bargaining if all else fails.

Popata said strikes sent the message "enough is enough".

"That's really the point when workers have been frustrated for so long."