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National’s spokesperson for Education Nikki Kaye is concerned for students and parents potentially facing continued strikes in 2019 as the Government has yet again failed to reach an agreement with both the primary and secondary education sectors.

“The news late last night that NZEI have overwhelmingly rejected the Government’s third pay offer means that there is a high likelihood of strikes at the beginning of next year.

“The PPTA have also confirmed that they have rejected the Government’s third secondary offer and are also likely to be heading towards strikes early in 2019.

“13 months in and the Government continues to blame National rather than recognise it has been gifted billions of dollars to bargain in good faith with and could use to resolve issues of supply, workload and pay. National did not have the choices that this Government has - this Government announced more than $900 million of expenditure in November alone.

“This is why it’s hard to believe Mr Hipkins when he says there is ‘no more money’. Now, despite a lot of talk in Opposition, Labour have taken teachers for granted and favoured tertiary students by using huge amounts of education cash on a failed fees free policy.

“Both the primary and secondary education sectors have a raft of issues that they have raised in their claims which have not been addressed including recruitment and retention issues.

“Yesterday in Parliament the Minister tried to claim there are around 200 vacancies in secondary schools, but principal surveys indicate this number is more likely to more than 1400. It is clear the Minister is out of touch with the very real situation in many schools.

“Earlier this year National confirmed our position regarding supporting a reduction in class sizes which would help with teacher workload. Despite campaigning on this in Opposition for many years the Government and some Labour MPs campaigning at the election the Government has not shifted on this in collective bargaining.

  “With both primary and secondary schools striking, parent’s and families will be feeling uneasy about going into the holiday break knowing that another year of disruption in schools is ahead of them.

“The prospect of school wide strikes means that the Minister of Education and the Ministry of Education should be working through the summer break to try and prevent multiple strikes in 2019. We need these issues resolved so there is no further impact on students.”

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