22 May 2023

Teachers strike actions suspended after talks with minister

10:52 am on 22 May 2023
Striking teachers march through Wellington on May 10, 2023.

Striking teachers marching through Wellington on 10 May. Photo: RNZ / John Gerritsen

Teacher unions have suspended all industrial action following a meeting with Education Minister Jan Tinetti.

Tinetti organised a meeting between the Post Primary Teachers' Association, the Educational Institute and the Education Ministry on Friday.

All parties refused RNZ requests for interviews but issued similar statements.

They said the PPTA and NZEI had suspended all industrial action until the end of Tuesday next week (30 May) while the Ministry of Education worked "with urgency" on new pay offers.

They said the agreement could be extended beyond 30 May by mutual agreement by all parties if required.

The agreement covered primary, secondary and area school teachers and primary and area school principals.

"The minster will continue to support the Ministry of Education, NZEI and PPTA to work together to negotiate an achievable solution," they said.

PPTA members were scheduled to refuse to teach Year 11 students on Thursday and Year 13 students on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, primary and area school principals were in the midst of a ban on work involving the ministry, and primary school teachers were scheduled to finish voting on possible industrial action on Monday.

In a message to members obtained by RNZ, NZEI president Mark Potter said Friday's "meeting was constructive, and the parties shared a willingness to work towards a solution".

He said the union's members could strike on 31 May if they voted to strike in their current ballot.

The Ministry of Education has offered school and kindergarten teachers broadly similar deals; three pay rises over three years providing a total increase of 11-13.9 percent.

Kindergarten teachers accepted the offer, but school teachers did not, telling RNZ the pay rise would be equivalent to about half the rate of inflation for most teachers, who were paid at or near the $90,000 top of their pay scale.

Members of the PPTA had so far held three one-day strikes including rolling regional strikes earlier this month and two strikes in March, one of which was in conjunction with primary and kindergarten teachers.

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