Asia Minute: Tens of Thousands of Teachers Strike in New Zealand

May 29, 2019

Credit Charles Edward Miller / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr

Teachers across New Zealand went on strike today. It’s the latest development in a long-running dispute between the nation’s two teachers’ unions and the federal government.

Organizers say the teacher’s strike in New Zealand is the largest industrial action ever taken by any union in the history of the country. Some 50,000 elementary and high school teachers are taking part in a one-day strike. And local media reports say about 700,000 students are being affected.

It’s the third time teachers have gone out on limited strikes since the Labor Party came to power leading a coalition government nearly two years ago.

Money is one issue, but it’s not the only one. Another one is working conditions — including class sizes. A lack of resources for special needs students is another concern.

But the government says providing more money is a difficult proposition.

Teachers have already turned down three pay raises of 3% — wanting a boost closer to 15%.

Teacher shortages have been an issue across the country in New Zealand, and the government has conducted recruitment drives in Australia and the United Kingdom.

Many districts have asked retired teachers to return to the classroom.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins says the government’s latest budget will not have any more money for teacher pay – although there may be funding for other issues that teachers have raised.

The teachers say if they’re not satisfied they’ll strike again later this summer.