Teachers keeping a close eye on Education Minister's meeting with unions

The AM Show 06/06/2019

The Education Minister will meet with teacher union leaders on Thursday in a bid to break the impasse over pay and conditions.

Chris Hipkins says he wants to focus on how concerns can be addressed progressively over time, as there's no more money to give teachers now.

More than 50,000 teachers from both primary and secondary schools went on strike last week, demanding an immediate boost in spending and pay packets.

NZ Parent Teacher Association (NZPTA) president Jen McLean says it is getting increasingly stressful for all parties.

"For us, it's really about encouraging teachers and parents to be communicating, even when the going gets tough. That's what's going to keep communities together when this gets really hard."

I think this is going to get harder before it gets easier.

Rolling strikes are already underway, with schools shut for year 9 students on Tuesday just been, and year 10 students Tuesday next week.

NZ Principals' Federation president Whetu Cormick says he and the rest of the country's teachers will be paying close attention to the meeting between Hipkins, the Post-Primary Teachers' Association and the New Zealand Educational Institute, which represents primary teachers.

"[Hipkins] has said that there's no more money, but I think that there is a fig leaf that's been offered today, so let's see the result of the conversation that's going to be happening behind closed doors," he told The AM Show.

Whetu Cormick. Photo credit: The AM Show

McLean says the longer it goes on, the more stressful it is for teachers.

"And also for the people in our communities, and the parents who have to [come up with childcare solutions] and the students whose routines are being interrupted."

No one wants any of this.

McLean admits she does not know what exactly will be discussed.

"I do know that we're 100 percent behind the teachers because we're seeing the issues day-to-day in our schools, and I would hope Hipkins would be going to schools right now and seeing those issues for himself as well."

Teachers want a 16 percent pay increase over two years, but the Government has only offered most an annual 3 percent increase over three years.

There has been a dramatic drop in people training to be teachers over the last decade, which teachers put down to poor pay and conditions.

The AM Show / Newshub reporters Dan Satherley & Hayley Jacobsen