With the first teachers strikes since 1994 set to go ahead later this month, it’s clear the Government has lost control of the situation and needs get back round the negotiating table to prevent disruption to kids’ learning, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.

“We should never have gotten to the point where teachers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a full day strike, for the first time in almost 25 years.

“This situation is entirely of Labour’s own making. It is yet another example of Labour setting unrealistic expectations and failing to meet them.

“But it still has its head in the sand. Education Minister Chris Hipkins failed to confirm in Parliament today that he has a plan in place to support working parents if the strikes do go ahead. His plan seems to be nothing more than a hope that it won’t happen.

“Well in order to prevent the strikes, the Government must go back to negotiations with respect for teachers and their expectations. Making threats, like Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters did in the media today, is not the way to resolve the situation.

“Part of the issue is the Government’s priorities. One of the first things Labour did when it came into Government was to give $2.8 billion to tertiary students, leaving little money left in the Budget for the compulsory education sector.

“In fact, the compulsory education sector’s share of the Budget is less this year than it was last Budget.

“But it’s not just about pay. Teachers want better work conditions, and the Government’s offer of 12 minutes extra a week to work individually with kids or plan learning doesn’t cut it.

“There were no primary teachers strikes under National, and overall teacher pay went up 17 per cent over our time in Government. We want to see teachers paid more, but we also want to reduce class sizes to improve the conditions for both teachers and children.

“Parents and students shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences of the Government’s bad decisions and poor management of negotiations.

“The Government must do what it needs to avoid the strikes, and at the same time come up with a plan to support working parents on August 15 in the event the strike does go ahead.”

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