50,000 New Zealander teachers walk out of jobs, demand pay raise
President of the New Zealand Educational Institute Mark Potter states that the walkout's aim is to "send a message to the government about how serious we are about needing change."
After the talks with the Ministry of Education reached a dead end, almost 50,000 teachers and childhood educators in New Zealand walked out of their jobs on Thursday, demanding higher pay and better work conditions.
Organized and led by the Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) and the New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI), the teachers held placards that said "can't afford the dentist" and "too poor to print good signs".
The President of the New Zealand Educational Institute, Mark Potter, stated that the walkout's aim is to "send a message to the government about how serious we are about needing change," adding that they want "the best for our students, but without changes to the system, we can't give it to them,"
Education Minister and former principal Jan Tinetti expressed in front of the protestors outside parliament her disappointment that teachers had to strike and wished the matter would be resolved alongside adding that the government would work for it.
"We know it's been a really tough time for teachers over the last couple of years, as it has been for everybody, but my heart goes out to them," Tinetti said.
At a 'crisis point'
New Zealander Prime Minister Chris Hipkins promised during his appointment in January to focus government reform on the "global pandemic of inflation" while the Labour Party announced it would focus on the rising costs - teachers are a key voting base of the Party.
The prices of food have already gone up 11.3% year-on-year in December 2022, which is considered the biggest jump in more than three decades. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, New Zealand's economy had not contracted since 2010.
Hipkins, who also goes by the nickname "Chippy", played a major role in the country's response to the pandemic and played a troubleshooter for ex-PM Ardern, amping up his competence and capabilities.
Trade unions viewed the government's latest pay offer as not sufficient enough to match inflation, especially since the education sector has reached a "crisis point" due to a shortage of teachers.