Auckland teachers kick off nationwide strike

By Regan Paranihi

Teachers across the country will take to the streets this week to strike after the collapse of contract negotiations last Thursday.

The strike started in Auckland this morning, with rallies, pickets and more than 100,000 students missing school.

This morning around 50 teachers gathered together on the corner of two of central Auckland’s busiest roads, Ponsonby Road and Great North Road, saying the governments offer is "too little, too late".

Kim Hankins, from Newton Central Primary, said teachers' workload was "just ridiculous".

"I would estimate half of the teachers are planning to get out of teaching. The offer is too little too late."

Last week the Ministry of Education offered $129mil more, taking the pay offer to almost $700mil over four years, but the offer was turned down.

The offer included a nine percent increase over three years and a $500 lump sum payment for union members only.

Newton Central Primary principal Riki Teteina says, "It's still very difficult for teachers and also we have a massive teacher shortage and none of these things are actually going to address that primary issue."

Education Minister Chris Hipkins says there won't be any more money.

He also says the teachers’ union had asked for too much during the negotiation process and he is disappointed the strikes are going ahead.

"The government did everything possible to avert strike action.  The mediator was very clear that the NZEI's claims were unreasonable and that the government's offer was a very very good offer."

The Educational Institute said its members would discuss the ministry's latest offer and vote later this month on whether to accept or reject it.