New Zealand: Kindergarten Teachers Vote to Strike
Kindergarten teachers belonging to EI affiliate NZEI Te Riu Roa have voted 97% in favour of striking on 8th December.
Kindergarten teachers belonging to EI affiliate NZEI Te Riu Roa have voted 97% in favour of striking on 8th December. “This is just the third time that kindergarten teachers have taken national strike action in 121 years, which shows the seriousness of the situation,” says NZEI Te Riu Roa National President, Colin Tarr. The decision to strike follows a breakdown in negotiations for a new collective employment agreement. Employers are demanding changes to the teachers’ working conditions that threaten the quality of education provided at kindergartens. The employers are: - Refusing to recognise in their collective agreement, that kindergarten teachers need to continue having term breaks, like their colleagues in primary and secondary schools. - Demanding the ability to increase the level of contact time (the time teachers work directly with children) to a level that will cause teacher burnout and will erode education quality. - Refusing to recognise the extra responsibilities shouldered by head and senior kindergarten teachers by refusing to pay them at the benchmark level agreed when kindergarten teachers gained pay parity with primary and secondary teachers. “The increases in contact time the employers are demanding are excessive,” says Colin Tarr. Most kindergartens currently provide 22 to 26 hours of contact time with children a week. The employers are seeking the right to increase this to up to 35 hours a week. By contrast primary schools provide 24 hours and secondary schools 20 hours contact time a week. The average contact time for primary schools among the 30 countries that make up the OECD is 20 hours a week. “Kindergarten teachers are taking a stand against these demands and have reported widespread support from parents this week,” says Colin Tarr. “The teachers are now going on strike because they’re determined to protect the quality of education that they provide.” More information is available from the NZEI Te Riu Roa website