Teachers planning largest NZ strike ever

Primary and secondary school teachers are planning New Zealand’s largest strike ever the day before the budget. The Government has said they doing have enough money to meet the teacher’s demands.

I guess targeting the budget is symbolic, but it will be far too late to influence this year’s budget, which will have been settled weeks ago,.

RNZ:  NZ primary and secondary teachers vote for largest ever strike

Primary and secondary teachers across New Zealand have voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking joint strike action.

The two teachers’ unions – NZEI and the Post Primary Teachers’ Association – announced today a “mega-strike” on 29 May.

Primary teachers and principals have voted in secret ballots at meetings across the country over the last week, while the PPTA held an online ballot of secondary school teachers.

The joint strike will be the largest ever industrial action taken in New Zealand, covering almost 50,000 members across the two unions.

Both groups have refused to settle for three pay rises of 3 percent each and their talks with the Education Ministry have been deadlocked for months.

The government has insisted it will not increase the total value of its offers, which it said were more than $1.2 billion over four years. The government is willing to rearrange how the money might be applied to pay rises and staff claims.

Air NZ strike notice lifted

Air New Zealand strikes planned for three days before Christmas have been called off. This will be a relief for the many people who would have been affected.

I presume some sort of agreement or compromise has been made between the airline and union, but I also expect there would have been a lot of anger expressed to them. I don’t know how badly pay negotiations were going, but threatening to strike at Christmas looked a bit like industrial blackmail.

Teacher strikes again this week

Primary school teachers are still unhappy with pay negotiations and plan more strikes this week, starting in Auckland today and rolling out across the country through the week. This will inconvenience many people.

Last Thursday: Revised pay offer for secondary teachers labelled as ‘laughable’

About 1500 teachers turned up for a meeting yesterday to discuss the new offer from the government over pay and conditions, which would increase most teachers’ pay by 9 percent over three years.

The Post Primary Teachers’ Association has suggested teachers reject the offer, which it said was largely unchanged from another offer in September that teachers also rejected.

Teachers are seeking better pay, better staffing, cuts to unnecessary administrative red tape, and upped allowances to create better conditions in the classroom.

I wouldn’t mind 9% of increases over three years, but teachers think they need more of a catch up for that – for the sake of the kids of course.

Friday:  Primary teacher strikes to go ahead as last-ditch offer fails

A last-ditch offer from the Education Ministry has failed to avert next week’s strikes by primary teachers and principals.

New Zealand Education Institute (NZEI) president Lynda Stuart said the Ministry made the offer yesterday afternoon after a week of bargaining facilitated by the Employment Relations Authority.

She said it removed the $63,929 upper limit on pay rates for teachers with diplomas and moved it to $82,992 by 2020, the same top rate as teachers with degrees.

The top rate for those with graduate diplomas and masters degrees would rise to $85,481 by 2020.

Ms Stuart said its members would discuss the offer and vote later this month on whether to accept or reject it.

But are going on strike this week.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said he was disappointed the teacher union decided to push ahead with strike action.

Mr Hipkins said teachers were not even given the opportunity to vote on the latest offer before the union dismissed it.

“The latest offer that the government has made is it. There’s not going to be any more money, so they can choose to accept the offer, they can ask for the offer to be reconfigured, but striking in the hope that more money will eventuate is going to lead to disappointment.”

RNZ:  Primary school teachers on strike again today

More than 100,000 primary school students in Auckland will be home from school today as teachers and principals walk off the job for the second time this year.

Today’s strike is the first of five expected across the country this week.

The strike is in Dunedin on Thursday, which will impact on me.

The Educational Institute said its members would discuss the ministry’s latest offer and vote later this month on whether to accept or reject it.

The Employment Relations Authority has slammed the teachers union’s pay demands as “totally unrealistic” and is urging teachers to take the Government’s offer.

Teachers get some parent sympathy when pushing for better wages and conditions, but run the risk of losing that support if they strike too much. Strikes impact on many people. The kids like getting an extra day off school, but it inconveniences parents, grandparents and other caregivers.


Secondary teachers threaten strikes over pay offer

It is the turn of secondary teachers to threaten strikes after receiving an ‘insulting’ pay offer of 3% per year over three years (many workers would be pleased if they got that much).

RNZ: Secondary teachers reject ‘insulting’ pay offer

The union said the Education Ministry had offered three pay rises of three per cent a year for most teachers, 2.5 percent a year for new teachers, and two percent a year for others, as well as increased allowances for extra duties.

Delegates to the PPTA’s conference in Wellington said the offer was insulting and voted unanimously to refuse it.

The union said its members would vote next month on strike action unless the government made a better offer.

The vote followed Monday’s decision by members of the primary teachers’ union, the Educational Institute, to vote on strike action over their pay talks.

Earlier today the secondary teachers union challenged the Education Minister, Chris Hipkins, to put his money where his mouth is.

Mr Hipkins told the conference the teacher shortage was top of his list of problems to deal with, but the government could not solve it overnight.

He said the problem would never be fixed if teachers told those considering the career it was not a good job.

“While I understand your frustration that things have reached this point, we won’t turn it around, possibly ever, if the message our prospective future teachers get from today’s teachers is that it’s a profession not worth joining,” he said.

He said the government could not undo nine years of neglect in one year and urged teachers to work in partnership with the government to improve the education system.

“I’m not asking you to bear with us as we address years of educational neglect and underfunding. You are bearing enough already,” he said.

“I’m asking you to work in partnership with us, and to rebuild your trust with government that has been so abused in recent years, as we together build the world’s best education system for all our children and young people.”

RNZ:  Secondary teachers may strike after ‘insulting’ pay offer

Members of the Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) will vote on industrial action next month, after rejecting the offer as “insulting”.

Delegates at the union’s conference in Wellington said secondary teachers were determined to win a better pay rise and were ready to strike if they had to.

Secondary teachers striking during the fourth term may clash with students preparing for and sitting end of year exams.

They said the government’s offer, which would have increased most teachers’ pay by three percent a year for three years, was inadequate.

The union’s decision raises the possibility of a double-whammy of strike action with the primary teachers union, the Educational Institute.

Its members have already rejected a similar pay offer and will vote soon on whether to hold a week of rolling one-day strikes.

That may test the patience and support of parents.

Nurses vote to strike on Thursday

Nurses have voted to go ahead with a strike on Thursday, seeking more pay than the current offer that probably looks quite generous to most people.

RNZ:  Hospitals prepare for nurses strike

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) rejected the latest district health board pay offer yesterday, saying more money was needed to avert the strike.

The Employment Relations Authority has ordered them back into talks which are due to continue today.

As negotiations have unfolded, so too have plans for life-preserving services during the 24-hour industrial action, scheduled to start at 7am tomorrow.

This means a lot of disruption, especially for people scheduled for operations, treatments and outpatient appointments. It will take a lot of organising by hospitals to cope.

Wellington’s Capital and Coast DHB’s chief medical officer John Tait estimated 6000-8000 elective procedures nationwide will need to be deferred.

It would pose major challenges for the country’s 20 DHBs but medical directors have insisted they’re as prepared as they can be, he said.

Sue Hayward, chief nursing and midwifery officer at Waikato District Health Board, said an agreed number of nurses would working during the strike – a measure taken with the support of the NZNO.

They can’t just clear out all the hospitals so some care is still required.

Director of child health at Starship, Dr Mike Shepherd, said Auckland District Health Board was as well prepared as it could be.

“We’ve been contingency planning now for a couple of weeks because of the need to reduce the number of patients in the hospital and to make sure we’re able to provide safe services over the strike period.

Dr Vanessa Thornton, chief medical officer at Counties Manakau DHB, said acute services would be prioritised during the strike.

“Obviously the elective side of the services will be cancelled because we won’t be able to provide that service. Winter is a busy time for us and so we have prepared our life-preserving services around our current occupancy and acuity.”

Bay of Plenty DHB chief medical officer Hugh Lees said they had a reasonable idea of the number of emergency patients they would normally get, though couldn’t be certain.

ODT:  Nurses’ strike affects 450 patients

The Southern District Health Board has started contacting hundreds of patients to cancel and reschedule appointments booked for tomorrow, after nurses voted to strike.

Up to 75% of the frontline health workforce will be missing from work tomorrow, when members of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation go on strike.

About 450 patients at Dunedin and Southland hospitals will be affected by the strike.

Industrial action scheduled for last Thursday by about 30,000 NZNO members was averted by a last-minute revision of the DHBs’ pay offer, a change the NZNO recommended members accept.

However, members rejected it, meaning tomorrow’s strike remains on.

”The vote was closer this time … but we have a simple majority rule and that simple majority was met,” NZNO industrial services manager Cee Payne said.

”We would have to consider balloting further [on strike action] if there was no shift at all in terms of the current impasse.”

Additional government funding to address NZNO members’ concerns about pay rates, pay equity and staffing issues would be needed to head off the strike, Ms Payne said.

A lot of disruption and cost. Probably not a lot of sympathy for nurses who already look like getting fairly sizeable pay increases.

Stuff: Acting PM Winston Peters ‘very disappointed’ by nurses strike decision

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters says the Government is “very disappointed” by the decision by the Nurses’ Union to strike.

“The Government’s offer would herald the highest pay increase by far for nurses in 14 long years,” said Peters.

He said the Government still believed there was time to avoid the strike.

I guess the strike could still be averted but that’s looking unlikely if a vote was needed to change the decision.

Proposed ‘Fair Pay Agreements’

The new Government is proposing Fair Pay Agreements that will not allow industry wide strikes but will be decided by arbitration if the parties (employers and unions) can’t agree.

NZH: Industry-wide strikes impossible under Fair Pay Agreements

The Government is giving assurances that industry-wide strikes will not be possible under its proposed Fair Pay Agreements, which would set minimum standards across entire industries.

The agreements represent a major change to the workplace and have been hailed by unions, but criticised by the National Party as taking industrial relations back to the 1970s.

Discussions on Fair Pay Agreements will include unions and businesses, with legislation being introduced within 12 months as part of other changes, including:

• double the number of labour inspectors to 110 (cost of $9m)

• abolish youth rates

• look at ensuring proper pay for those who work over 40 hours a week

• look at improving job security for casual and seasonal workers

There’s some fairly contentious things in that.

Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has assured businesses that the agreements – which could include pay rates, weekend rates, hours per week – would not allow workers to have industry-wide strikes.

“Business NZ was very concerned about industry-wide strike action, so there will be no mechanism for striking if you’re pursuing a Fair Pay Agreement.

“The flipside is that if the parties can’t agree, there will need to be some form of arbitration to make a final decision.”

So ‘some form of arbitration’ could be used to make ‘a final decision’ on ‘proper pay rates’ and job security.

Pay rates and job conditions could be imposed industry-wide.

I think more detail is required to see how radical this could be.

Lees-Galloway has a union background – prior to becoming an MP he worked for the New Zealand Nurses Organisation as an organiser and later as a publicity coordinator.

I presume that NZ First will be bound by joint Cabinet responsibility to support any changes to labour laws.

Being outside Cabinet Greens won’t, but this sounds like the sort of thing they might support anyway.

Junior doctors strike

Junior doctors are starting a two day strike today.

NZ Herald: 3000 junior doctors across the country go on strike

A strike has begun at 7am this morning, withdrawing the services of around 3000 resident doctors across the country.

District health board doctors who are members of the Resident Doctors Association are striking for 48 hours, from 7am today until 7am on Thursday.

The junior doctors said they were having to work 12 consecutive days with some of the shifts being up to 16 hours long, which was unsafe for patients and too tiring for them.

A spokeswoman for the country’s 20 district health boards has said the 12 days comprise five week days, a weekend and the following five week days. The DHBs are willing to give two days off on week days but the junior doctors want to be paid for them, which is effectively a pay rise.

Junior doctors are a critical part of our health system. Money will always be a problem in providing health care, but safety of the doctors and their patients should be a priority.


New Kiwiblog moderation strikes

David Farrar has been promising to toughen up on abusive comments at Kiwiblog with a new three strikes moderation policy. The first and second strikes give an indication of intent.

The first was on the thread Volunteers sought for Kiwiblog last Friday, where fairly predictably ‘Kea’ got the first strike:

And that Scott Chris shows you are fundamentally unsuited to make that choice. You are a coward and intellectually dishonest. Your own contributions are worthless dross for those reasons.

But I would allow you to share your brain-farts in total freedom. They make other contributors look good and fill the diversity quota [for the handicapped] at the same time.

[DPF: Thanks for the perfect example of an unacceptable comment. You’re the first person to get a strike under the new regime]

That’s relatively mild from Kea, who has been banned several times under the old moderation system. Kea is a prolific commenter with some good things to say at times but often resorts to personal abuse, sometimes extreme even by (past) Kiwiblog standards.

The second strike was yesterday, and was a second strike for Kea:

Scott Chris has pushed the “Report abusive comment” button FIFTY TIMES. What a cowardly wanker.

DPF gives me a strike but sees none of the abuse thrown at me by this, and other, abusive bigots on a daily basis. DPF has form for this sort of thing and his bullshit claims about lack of bias further erode his remaining credibility. The primary reason he demerits me is for my views.

I am out of here folks for good and are closing my account. Though I will pop in to watch KB continue its decline into a fanatical Christian anti-Muslim hate site.

[DPF: And that was strike two. You’re not yet suspended if you change your mind]

Scott Chris had openly admitted reporting the abuse – as requested by DPF – and if Kea had felt unacceptable abuse had been directed at him he could have done likewise.

If Kea changes his mind and returns then on past form a third strike will be difficult for him to avoid.

This new moderation regime seems to have made some of the regulars a bit uneasy but if they don’t resort to personal abuse they shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

Some at Kiwiblog seem to have for a long time considered abuse, bullying and trying to drive other away a bit of sport. They will have to get used to the referee’s new rules.


Kiwiblog Comments Policy

UPDATE: Another strike on 8/10/2014

Nukuleka (316 comments) says:

Not sure why you should worry about having any code of standards about your blog DPF when you mindlessly use inappropriate and offensive language at will. Perhaps you are the offensive little creep that the left wing hate blogs suggest. Maybe JK would be wise to start to distance himself from you as well as from Cameron Slater.

[DPF: Strike 1]