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News that the secondary teachers have overwhelmingly rejected the Government’s pay offer means strikes are likely in term one of next year unless the Government can reach settlement, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.

“The PPTA have today said that the Government has a complete unwillingness to face facts and have confirmed what they are calling an ‘overwhelming’ vote against the Government’s pay offer and for strikes.

“This will have a significant impact on students and their families and the Minister needs to explain what contingency plans will be put in place to deal with this. This is on the back of two primary teacher strikes that have already meant days of learning lost.

“One of the core issues for secondary teachers in areas like Auckland is the rising cost of living which has been raised in their claim. Last year, to help support teachers with living costs, National confirmed that we were looking at extending voluntary bonding in hard to staff areas.

“However, despite the Labour-led Government driving up the cost of living, the Minister also cut the length of payments for Auckland and only provided the payments for decile 1-3 schools. The Minster must consider a greater investment and extension of voluntary bonding payments to assist schools.

“National increased salaries for teachers by 2.7 per cent in the last year of the last bargaining round, yet the Government is offering 3 per cent despite having billions more in surplus.

“The Government has repeatedly said there is ‘no more money’ yet in November alone they have announced hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of new spending, opened a new embassy in Sweden, and mulched $160,000 worth of seedlings through its botched ‘1 billion trees’ scheme.

“Add to this recent news that the $2.8 billion fees free policy has resulted in 2400 fewer tertiary students, and the Government’s $5 billion surplus and what you have is proof that there is more money. This makes it even more difficult for teachers and parents to understand why Chris Hipkins isn’t doing more to settle the pay disputes and prevent more strikes.

“The Government also needs to realise that separate to preventing strikes, this collective bargaining is also about assisting to resolve teacher shortages, with some schools questioning the Government’s push to take in large numbers of overseas teachers.

“The PPTA said today what many New Zealanders are finding out is that the Government is simply not living up to what they’ve promised.

“The combination of further primary strikes potentially looming and strikes on the cards for secondary teachers is very worrying for students, teachers and parents.”

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