Live stream: Phil Twyford set to deliver major housing announcement from South Auckland

Watch live as the Housing Minister speaks from Mangere. Source: 1 NEWS

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Wellington bus drivers vote for 'ongoing' strike if collective agreement not reached in a month

Hundreds of Wellington region bus drivers have voted for an "ongoing" strike if a collective agreement is not reached by October 23, just under a month away.

Tramways Union Wellington says companies facing industrial action are Tranzurban Wellington and Hutt (Tranzit), Uzabus and NZ Bus.

Drivers have also passed a unanimous vote of no confidence in the Greater Wellington Regional Council and called for a commissioner to take over the region’s public transport.

Tramways Union secretary Kevin O’Sullivan says the strike is a matter of last resort.

"We have been trying to get Tranzit to negotiate for months and still have no offer from them or any indication they are taking the bargaining seriously. This is why we have now had to set a deadline," Mr O'Sullivan said.

"Meanwhile the GWRC has been telling us everything is fine and refusing to hold their contractors to account for their lack of good faith. It’s become clear that the council has no intention of fixing the industrial dispute or the public transport system. They need to have it taken away from them before they make matters worse.

"There is no way that Wellington’s bus system can be fixed without a fair deal for drivers. Until this is settled the driver shortage will continue, the industrial action will continue, and drivers will continue to have no reason to even try to make this broken system work," he said.

"We don’t want to make life harder for Wellington commuters, the council has already done enough of that, but if we don’t take a stand things are only going to get worse for everyone. I think the people of Wellington understand that which is why our members have had so much support."

Mr O’Sullivan said he wanted to wait and see if a collective agreement is reached before commenting on how long drivers were prepared to strike for.

A spokesperson for bus operator Tranzit said negotiations have been underway with Tramways Union Wellington for two weeks, following talks between both parties that started last year.

The spokesperson, who did now want to be named, denied the union comment that Tranzit is not taking negotiations seriously.

"Tranzit is not involved in tit for-tat. Negotiations are just that - dialogue. The onus is on getting it right," he said.

The spokesperson said he didn’t think a strike by Tranzit members, if it were to happen, would have a significant impact.

A Uzabus spokesperson said negotiations were underway between the company and Tramways Union but referred further questions to Greater Wellington Regional Council.

NZ Bus has been contacted for comment.

Many are calling on central Government to fix the capital’s public transport woes.
Source: 1 NEWS

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Man who took two human toes from Auckland exhibition avoids conviction

A judge has thrown out one charge laid against a man who stole two human toes from an Auckland exhibition and discharged him without conviction on the other.

Joshua Williams, 28, appeared for sentence in the Wellington District Court on charges of interfering with a dead body and theft of the toes.

However, Judge Bill Hastings said in an earlier case the Supreme Court had ruled a dead body did not constitute property, which meant the toes taken by Mr Williams could not legally be deemed to be stolen.

He was concerned the stigma attracted by a conviction for interfering with a dead body would be out of all proportion to the gravity of what Mr Williams did.

Judge Hastings said that conjured an image of someone digging up graves in a cemetery at night, when all Mr Williams had done was pluck two toes from a plastinated body.

rnz.co.nz

Joshua Williams in the Wellington District Court. Source: rnz.co.nz

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Primary teachers reject latest pay offer from Ministry of Education, may strike next term

Primary school teachers and principals could hold a second national strike next term after rejecting the Government's latest pay offer of three per cent a year for most of them.

A secret online ballot on the offer for NZEI members closed last night and the union says they resoundingly rejected the Government’s latest collective agreement offers.

Tracey Martin says she hopes the NZEI and Ministry of Education will get back to the negotiating table. Source: 1 NEWS

NZEI President Lynda Stuart said members had sent a clear message that the offers did not address concerns about the growing teacher shortage, time to teach and support for children with additional learning needs.

"Teachers and principals are saying that they are disappointed by the Government's failure to deliver and they are resolute in their determination,"  Mrs Stuart said.

"Now we have the ballot result, the next step is in members' hands. They are discussing this online and in conversations in their workplaces," she said.

"At the NZEI Te Riu Roa Annual Conference at the end of this week, representatives will consider the compiled feedback about potential collective action and will make a recommendation about what we do in Term 4.  If further strike action is recommended, all affected members will vote on this early next term."

Close up shot of pencils in classroom
Source: Te Karere

The revised offer rejected by primary teachers included a three-year term from the date of settlement and an increase in the base salary scale by three per cent each year.

The NZEI says it included no provisions for reducing workloads or class sizes and no committed funding for supporting children with additional learning needs, such as funding a Special Education Needs Coordinator role in each school.

The Acting Minister of Education released a Draft Disability and Learning Support Plan last week which proposed an in-school Learning Support Coordinator  role, but funding is not yet committed, NZEI said.

The revised offer rejected by primary principals included a three percent salary increase each year for principals of schools with more than 100 students.

It included increases of 4.5%+4.5%+4.4% a year for principals of schools with fewer than 100 students.

Again there were no provisions to address workload, NZEI said.

Primary teachers and principals went on strike nationwide on August 15.

It's really disappointing - Acting Education Minister Tracey Martin

Acting Education Minister Tracey Martin says the teachers' rejection of the latest offer is really disappointing.

"We understand their frustration, but it's disappointing because we really want to get back together and move forward, we want to move education forward," she told reporters at Parliament.

Ms Martin says she's "slightly surprised" by the rejection.

"I mean this offer is a larger offer than all three offers put together that were accepted by the NZEI under the previous government."

Ms Martin says she hopes the NZEI and Ministry of Education "will get back to the table and work constructively together to try and come to some arrangement".

The Government has prioritised tertiary students over teachers - Nikki Kaye, National Education spokesperson
National's Nikki Kaye says the primary teachers' rejection of a pay offer is really disappointing, but understandable. Source: 1 NEWS

National's Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says the teachers' rejection of an offer a second time is really disappointing, but understandable as the Government has prioritised tertiary students over teachers.

"The Government has put forward a $2.8 billion tertiary package, which is equivalent to giving every teacher in New Zealand a 15 per cent pay rise," Ms Kaye told reporters. 

"So it's not right that they claim they haven't got the money. They've chosen to spend it on tertiary students instead of teachers," she said. 

"So our advice to the government is they need to step things up. It's not good for parents and children's learning to have multiple strikes. This is now the second time there's been a rejection. We haven't had primary teachers strikes in 24 years."

Primary teachers have rejected a revised pay offer from the Government. Source: 1 NEWS


Government moves to support Kiwi businesses trading with Iran as its relationship with US worsens

The Government is doing everything it can to support Kiwi businesses trading with Iran, the PM said today, as friction between Iran and US delves deeper into a tit-for-tat relationship. 

New Zealand benefits from predictability and the world order, she told reporters from New York today, when asked if she could give an assurance Kiwi trade with Iran would not be impacted. 

"We benefit from the rule book and the international world order. We will keep promoting a move away from any tit-for-tat trade wars, anything that removes that predictability that we rely on so heavily.

In May, US President Trump said he would pull out of a 2015 agreement over Iran's nuclear programme and would re-impose sanctions on Tehran, according to the Associated Press. 

Overnight, Mr Trump asked the UN General Assembly "to isolate Iran's regime as long as its aggression continues". Iran's President Hassan Rouhani later that day spoke of leaders stirring up "extremist nationalism and racism... though xenophobic tendencies resembling a Nazi disposition". 

When asked if she found the verbal attacks frightening, Ms Ardern said "from New Zealand's perspective we benefit from predictability".

"It's a big focus for us to protect New Zealand’s interests, and we do that by supporting the rule book by operating under the predictable international order that New Zealand’s always supported, we’ll keep pushing for that.

"We always work hard to ensure that we're supporting our exporters. We've worked hard on aluminium and steel and we will continue to focus on issues like our exporters in Iran."

New Zealand was still subject to steel tariffs by the US, which was intended to impact China. The Trump Administration did not include New Zealand in the countries exempt from the tariffs.

Jacinda Ardern gave Kiwi businesses trading in Iran an assurance the Government is ‘doing everything we can to support the work they do’. Source: 1 NEWS