The Prime Minister and Finance Minister need to step in and help Education Minister Chris Hipkins by providing a circuit breaker to resolve the strikes, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“Mr Hipkins has overseen gridlock in collective bargaining for over 12 months with primary teachers and more than eight months with secondary teachers.
“The PPTA has authorised ‘other’ industrial action commencing May 29th which would see more disruption or strikes if this is not resolved. This would see some parents having multiple days disruption over 5 week periods.
“With the first primary strikes in 24 years, multiple failed offers and hundreds and thousands of hours of teaching and learning lost. Teachers, students and parents need this to be resolved.
“The Prime Minister and Finance Minister need to assist the Minister of Education by enabling greater flexibility in their bargaining parameters, so this can be resolved.
“The upcoming Budget will likely see funding go towards free counsellors for under 25s, adding some of their promised learning support coordinators and providing Ongoing Resourcing Scheme funding for children with complex needs.
“While this will be welcome it will not deliver on all of Labour’s promises, and is unlikely to resolve some of the core issues in collective bargaining around pay and teacher workload.
“National has committed to reducing teacher ratios which would help reduce workloads. Teachers are also concerned about having adequate classroom release time and resources to implement NCEA changes.
“National left Labour with growing surpluses. But the recent confirmation of the $2 billion fees-free flop and subsequent $200 million underspend has not been received well by some people in the sector.
“The Minister’s first priority should be using this money to ensure there are more teachers in classrooms, instead he’s put it into his ideological vocational education reforms, which are widely opposed and carry the potential for legal action.
“If the Government can’t resolve the dispute then on the eve of the Budget we will have the largest ever industrial action by New Zealand teachers, covering almost 50,000 members across the two unions, and strike action looks set to continue. Teachers, students and parents deserve to have this resolved.”