© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2024

Kiwi teachers still waiting on negotiation update

Charlotte Mulder
Teacher striking lunch
PPTA members gathering for lunch after withdrawing labour for their one off national day strike.   Charlotte Mulder

Secondary and area school teachers are still eagerly waiting to hear any updates from the government following their second strike.

Recently Kiwi teachers took a stand against the Ministry Of Education by withdrawing their labour for one day to demand better pay and conditions for the school system.

With the increased cost of living, a teacher's pay in Aotearoa no longer matches the rise of inflation, creating a supply and retention shortage amongst old and new teachers.

The salary has already forced over half of all graduated teachers to leave under just five years in the job, and subject specialists to consider other careers.

In the past year, the PPTA has rejected two offers made by the government that were well below the projected cost of living.

In retaliation to the crisis, 50,000 teachers walked off the job around New Zealand in protest, making it the largest ever teachers' strike.

The protest had a successful turnout as it was not just about getting equal pay but saving the education system from further damage.

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A glimpse of the teacher protesters in the Christchurch Victoria square. Halle Pitama
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Peaceful teacher protesters displaying their signs at Victoria Square. Halle Pitama

To keep the momentum flowing,  PPTA members voted on a national electronic ballot to take further industrial action following the first national protest.

Two days ago, 2000 union members in Canterbury stayed home for the day without pay.

This removal of labour ensured high schools were closed for one day, with some non-union members staying for students who needed it.

Many teachers protested, many wrote letters to their MP, however a group of Canterbury teachers decided to get together in the spirit of why they love teaching.

Christchurch High schools
All Christchurch High Schools that were empty on 29th March 2023 Google

PPTA member Martin James said after working as a teacher for 40 years, it was "devastating to watch the system deteriorate over time". 

"If money's not a constant problem, educators have the opportunity to put more time and energy into shaping the lives of young people."

Another PPTA member Jillian Wood said teachers were expected to educate neurodivergent students with no training or qualification.

"This is simply unfair for both educators and students." 

Teachers don’t just work to help students succeed, but also challenge the integrated stigma hidden within society. 

New PPTA member Anaru Mikarere said he became a teacher to change the stigma around Māori high school kids.

"Growing up I was forced to conform into a Pākehā environment. I want to create the opportunity I didn’t have for those students who are in the same position."

PPTA's Canterbury representative Thomas Newton said the Ministry needed to take the sector seriously and fund secondary education enough to encourage the best graduates into work.

"Then the sky is really the limit for the students we educate."

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A eager Christchurch teacher displaying her flag to win over the Ministry. Charlotte Mulder

Next term, rolling strikes will be held where teachers protest on different days in different regions.

Acting President of the PPTA Chris Abercrombie said negotiations would continue until both the teachers and the government came to a collective agreement.

"I'm optimistic the Ministry will come to the table and listen to all the pleading voices in Aotearoa."

 PPTA union members will be notified of any changes as soon as negotiations finish.