Auckland brought to a halt as teachers rally on Queen St

By Rukuwai Tipene-Allen

About 29,000 teachers and principals are on strike today, closing most primary and intermediate schools across the country.  Thousands of protesters rallied in Auckland City against unfair work conditions and unreasonable pay. 

Protesters swarmed Queen St to send a message to the government to stop disregarding their needs.

New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) - Te Riu Roa president, Lynda Stuart says, "We want the time for our principals to lead and for our teachers to teach.  We want to be able to attract people to the profession."

Rowandale principal Karl Vasau told Te Kāea, "We're also asking the government to help children with special needs.  They've only offered a small support for a lot of children."

The government offered teachers a pay increase but Te Riu Roa president Lynda Stuart says it's not enough.

"We've asked for a 16% pay jolt and what we've got at the moment 2.2 to 2.6% over three years for the most experienced teachers and it's just not enough." 

Teachers are at breaking point.

A new teacher told Te Kāea that she was paid more through her study scholarship than her salary.

This is the first time teachers have gone on strike in 24 years and Vasau says it's time they get what they deserve.

"There's a whole lot of things that this government hasn't offered and if we look at it, the nurses settled for $550mil the other day and our first offer was only around $130mil." 

NZIE will go back into negotiations next week.