New Zealand primary teachers reject sellout pay offer
29 September 2018
On September 26, the New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI), the primary teachers’ union, announced that teachers and principals had voted “resoundingly” to reject the latest pay offer from the Labour Party-led government. The NZEI did not release the voting figures.
The proposed deal would have increased pay by 3 percent per year, for three years, for most teachers. This is not nearly enough to make up for a decade-long effective wage freeze while the cost of housing, public transport, energy and other essentials has soared. The offer contained nothing to address the severe staffing shortage in the education system, which has led to oversized classrooms and a lack of attention to children with special needs and learning difficulties.
The offer is the second one rejected by NZEI members, who earlier this year vetoed a proposed increase of just over 2 percent per year. An estimated 29,000 teachers and principals walked out for 24 hours on August 15—the first nationwide strike called by the NZEI since 1994 and only the third in the union’s 135-year history.
The teachers’ fight is part of a growing movement in the working class. In July, New Zealand nurses held their first national strike in 29 years, having rejected four grossly inadequate pay and staffing offers. Bus drivers in the capital city, Wellington, voted recently in favour of a strike on October 23 in response to attacks on working conditions by the regional council and private companies. Thousands of public servants and nearly 900 BlueScope steel workers have also held strikes in recent weeks.
Throughout the world, teachers are fighting back against austerity measures imposed since the 2008 financial crisis. In…