TODAY |

'Super strike' by primary and secondary teachers on the cards as rolling stoppages conclude

A super strike that could affect 50,000 primary and secondary school teachers is still on the cards after Wellington primary teachers went out on the final day of a week-long rolling strike around the country.

Traffic was brought to a halt in the capital as teachers picketed on the last day of the rolling primary teachers' strikes.

It was the second strike by primary teachers in recent months. The rolling strike started in Auckland on Monday and moved around the country. 

"The turnouts have been great. We've had some great public support along the way," said Lynda Stuart, president of the primary teachers' union NZEI. 

This likely won't be the last strike action, with plans now for a super strike by both primary and secondary teachers and principals.

"There are many issues that we have in common," Ms Stuart said.

A mass strike would affect nearly 50,000 teachers and principals.

The idea intensified at a closed-door meeting between the two unions, NZEI and the PPTA, late this afternoon. 

"Some of those campaign things will be about getting maximum exposure because we know the community is with us so that the Government listens and increases the pot. And we cannot rule out what might be in that," said Jack Boyle, PPTA president.

But if the super strike goes ahead will depend on if the Government's latest pay offers are rejected or accepted by primary and secondary school members.

"If it's a reject, it'll be moving forward around the next phase of the campaign and we will quite likely have our secondary colleagues there with us," Ms Stuart said.

That won't be known for another couple of weeks and the super strike won't take place until the new school year.

The two unions confirmed this evening that a mass strike is on the cards if no resolution is reached.

It is important that we settle these negotiations and minimise disruption for children and parents - Iona Holsted, Secretary for Education

The Ministry of Education says it has offered $10,000 to most teachers, and it's hard to understand why the unions are threatening further campaigns before the NZEI members have voted on the offer, and while the PPTA is still bargaining with the ministry.

Secretary for Education Iona Holsted said all primary teachers would receive three pay rises worth 9.3 per cent in total within 24 months, on top of their normal progression through the pay scale. 

In addition, a new step has been added to the top of the primary teaching pay-scale, she said. As the majority of teachers - nearly 16,000 - are on the top two steps of the pay-scale it means they'll have a further increase and teachers not at the top can look forward to further progression, Ms Holsted said.

The new maximum steps mean those at the top of the pay-scale will get an increase of $10,000 taking them to $85,481.

This does not include the additional units, worth $4000, and allowances many teachers receive for taking on management responsibilities or specialist roles.

"It is important that we settle these negotiations and minimise disruption for children and parents," Ms Holsted said.

"To meet NZEI's claims, including those not able to be addressed through bargaining, would cost $2.5 billion. 

"The Government has been clear there won't be further increases in the $698 million available to settle the primary teachers and principals claim. However we remain open to negotiating how this money is spent, including release time," she said.

If approved, primary and secondary teachers would walk off the job together. Source: 1 NEWS