Getting the kids up in the morning and sending them off to school is an essential daily ritual for many of us. The recent strike by primary schools teachers is the first such strike in 24 years. It will, no doubt, have disrupted many routines and caused added stress to the day.
The strike was a reaction to the Government’s pay increase offer of 2.2-2.6 per cent for primary teachers for the next three years. That has been rejected by teachers who don’t believe that this values their contribution to our community.
Labour promised to significantly increase teacher pay in Government, but they have not stuck to their word, even though the economy is growing and they are in surplus. Instead, the Government has funnelled $2.8 billion into a fees-free policy for tertiary students to have their first year of study free. Labour has no excuse for not being able to keep its promise to significantly increase teacher salaries, given the billions of dollars more that it has to work with.
In contrast, over the last nine years New Zealand was in much tougher economic times. We have been recovering from the global financial crisis, we had to spend billion to rebuild Christchurch and still we managed to ensure that teacher pay went up by 17 per cent.
Teachers deserve recognition for the important work that they do. Part of that is through pay but we can also do more work to improve the conditions in the job, such as reducing class sizes, something we are committed to work with teachers and communities to achieve.
We also need to make sure we recognise the impact that this strike has had on families around New Zealand. Strikes cause a huge level of disruptions and it is extremely important that the Government works hard to ensure that no further disruptions come about because of their inability to negotiate properly with teachers.
Families, teachers and students deserve to be able to trust in our world class education system and have it free from disruption, we need to make sure that we are giving everyone involved a fair deal.
- Jami-Lee Ross, Member of Parliament for Botany