An overwhelming majority of secondary school teachers in New Zealand have voted to go on strike on 15th September after rejecting the government’s latest pay offer. The Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) is calling for a 4 per cent pay rise, the capping of class sizes, free flu vaccines, and a safer working environment for teachers and students.

 

With a record turnout at meetings across the country, over 99 per cent voted to go on strike, with plans for rolling strikes and more protest actions later this year if no settlement is reached. Members also voted overwhelmingly to prevent employers from applying the 90-day "fire-at-will" provisions heralded in upcoming legislation. The ballot was taken after the government offered teachers only a 1.5 per cent pay rise this year, plus a 1 per cent pay rise next year.

               This will be the first secondary teachers strike in New Zealand since 2001-02, in which there were three one-day strikes over a period of 16 months. PPTA President Kate Gainsford said the current industrial action could last just as long. She pointed out:
“Three months of negotiations have yielded almost nothing in the way of constructive engagement. No wonder teachers are angry. The claim teachers have lodged consists of a range of possible solutions to concerns shared across the sector and the community. The government should be as concerned as everyone else about recruitment and retention and teachers' unmanageable workloads - but they've showed us scant evidence they care."