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Pay offer well short of the mark - teachers

Teachers say the Education Ministry's pay offer doesn't even come close to what they need to get by as they prepare to go on a rolling week-long strike next month.

Teachers have voted overwhelmingly to go on strike in an effort to get smaller class sizes, more resources and significant pay rises.

Hannah, an Auckland primary school teacher, has been in the profession for six years, her partner is also a secondary school teacher.

She said they want to have a family one day but struggle to see how that will happen.

"We don't have any children currently or own a house so we rent, which I think we do pretty comfortably.

"If we wanted to buy a house, I mean we can't, it's not even close to being an option for us," Hannah said.

She said the latest pay offer of a nine percent increase over the next three years falls far short of what teachers need.

She said the perception of teaching is not what it used to be.

"Overall I think it [teaching] has been undervalued and I think a lot of smart, educated people aren't choosing it as an option because other professions are valued more," she said.

Hannah said strike action feels like the only way to make the government truly understand what teachers need - which is more teachers.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said he's not surprised by the teacher's decision to strike.

"I understand they want a lot more and they want it as soon as possible but the government has to balance all of the things up.

"We've got to make sure that we're delivering things in a sustainable way. One of the things teachers are asking for is more teachers and it's difficult to deliver more teachers when we're struggling to fill the teaching positions we have now," Mr Hipkins said.

Mr Hipkins wouldn't say whether the government has more money available for teachers as the union and the government prepare for urgent bargaining with the Employment Relations Authority tomorrow.

He did say however that it wasn't just a case of dipping into the $5.5 billion surplus the government announced earlier this year.

"You can't spend the same money over and over again so we have to consider what's sustainable in the long term."

The Minister said he hopes parents caught out by the upcoming strikes understand the reasons for them and that both parties want to find a resolution.

If the mediation between the teachers union, the Education Ministry and Employment Relations Authority fails to reach an agreement the strikes will begin on 12 November in the Auckland region, and continue across the country for a week.


Watch Checkpoint's report from Auckland's Gladstone Primary where one teacher, who was looking after 40 students, explains why she voted to strike:

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