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It's time.

In 2018, we’ll be making the message loud and clear – It’s Time. Time to lead, teach and learn.

This means freeing teachers to teach so every child receives the personal attention they need to learn and thrive. It means freeing principals to focus on leading and it means ensuring we have enough teachers by attracting more people to teaching, by respecting them as professionals and paying them properly.

We currently have a growing teacher shortage crisis already showing itself in our schools, which looks set to worsen with growing student numbers and less people training to become teachers.

Our students come to school to learn all the skills and abilities that they’ll need to grow up healthy, happy and productive in the 21st century. Our nation can afford to ensure every child receives the education they need to succeed in life, and for every educator to be trusted and resourced to make that a reality. It’s simply a matter of priorities.

As we go through negotiations for the Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement this year, we’ll be standing together for our students and for an education system that values, attracts and retains the amazing teachers who are entrusted with the education of our children.

Throughout the negotiations it’s important that every member has their say in this crucial campaign.

Our students are worth it and so are we.

See a timeline of what's happened in the campaign so far.

Rolling strike action in November

Members voted to hold a week of rolling one-day strikes from 12 - 16 November.

These strikes took place on different days throughout the country:

Auckland Region - Monday 12 November

North Island (except Auckland and Wellington) - Tuesday 13 November

Wider Christchurch (including Ellesmere, Ashley, Mid-Canterbury, Malvern, Hurunui and Aronui Tomua Waitaha) - Wednesday 14 November

South Island (except wider Christchurch)  - Thursday 15 November

Wellington Region - Friday 16 November


In November the Ministry of Education made new offers to primary teachers and principals. These offers were overwhelmingly rejected by members in a secret ballot in early December.

Sign our petition to Education Minister Chris Hipkins asking the Government to significantly improve their offers to primary teachers and principals.

This campaign will not be won by the bargaining team. It will be won by many teachers and principals joining with their communities and showing the strength of support for the issues. See our action kit for resources.

The problems we're trying to solve are big ones. But we've got a plan to negotiate and campaign for what's needed to make it right.

Principals' workloads are becoming more and more complex, and with that complexity comes an even greater workload. We've commissioned an ongoing study into principals' health and wellbeing.

Survey: Principals are making cuts in 2018

We asked principals how their 2018 budgets were shaping up. We've learned that many are planning to make cuts to teacher aides' hours and positions just to make ends meet for their schools. Meanwhile, there just aren't enough teachers to fill positions or do relieving work. 

Questions and answers

Read more here

Why were teachers striking?

Both primary teachers and principals are determined to send a strong message to the Government and demand change so our students can have a teacher in every classroom, the learning support they need and teachers are recognised as the professionals they are. You can read more about what we’re asking for here.

Both primary teachers and principals feel the Ministry’s June offers did not address workload issues, extra learning support or ways to stem the growing crisis in recruiting and retaining teachers.

Both primary teachers and principals voted overwhelmingly in June to reject the Ministry’s offers and to hold three-hour strikes on 15 August. The feeling was so strong that the National Executive then balloted, and members voted, to replace the 3-hour strikes with full-day strikes on August 15.

We are in ongoing negotiations and aim to reach a settlement.

What happens now?

We have strong support from our communities and we continue to need the support of parents and whanau!

Sign the petition to the Minister of Education now!


So is this about a pay rise?

It's not the only issue, but members are clear – they want a significant pay rise.  They’ve had years of 1 to 2 percent pay increases that are simply not keeping up with the growing demands of the job, and the cost of living in New Zealand, particularly in our big cities.

The OECD has warned that our teachers are paid ten percent less than other New Zealanders with similar levels of skills and experience, and they’re paid much less than their peers overseas. NZ teachers have got some of the highest workloads, biggest classes, and lowest pay of any teachers in the developed world (OECD Education at a Glance, 2017).

NZ  is ranked 19th in the OECD for teachers pay based on purchasing power (Economist, Education for the Future Index).That’s well behind the UK, the US, Australia, Canada – in fact, all the countries we like to compare ourselves with.

We simply can’t retain and recruit inspiring teachers with these kinds of workloads, or at this level of pay. If it’s not fixed, the teacher supply crisis will worsen and more children will be taught in doubled up classes of 50 to 60 kids.

What do you mean by freeing teachers to teach?

By far the biggest concern that teachers bring up is workload. They’re dealing with increasing Government requirements to constantly assess and measure children and, at the same time there are more children with high and complex needs in their classrooms without the extra support those learners need.

Modern learning environments and Communities of Learning also create more demand for adult-to-adult collaboration, taking time away from planning and assessment time.

In addition, teachers are increasingly providing support to children who lack basic food and clothing, are transient or in poor housing. 

The result is teachers have less time and energy for their core job of planning and delivering programmes that motivate and engage children in learning.

Teachers are at breaking point. We simply need more humans in schools, whether that’s specialist teachers, support staff or classroom teachers. In next year’s PUMs, members will come up with claims to reduce their workload so teachers are freed to teach.

Our members are fed up seeing kids miss out, and they’re burning out while trying to stop that from happening.

How are you going to get more teachers when there’s already a shortage?

This is the Government’s challenge, and it’s been the challenge that it has failed to face up to particularly in Auckland.

However, we do know that there are 120,000 registered teachers, but only about 100,000 practicing.

Anecdotally, we hear of teachers leaving the profession for other work that’s better paid, and less stressful.

We believe that if teachers are valued, and respected, if their workload is realistic, and if they are paid properly many of these people would come back to teaching.

Any changes in staffing will be phased in, and there’d be scope to give young teachers more permanent and fulfilling roles too, which would keep them in teaching.

Campaign timeline

  • September, 2017

    NZEI Annual Conference 2017

    Members at NZEI Te Riu Roa Annual Conference declare that It’s Time to address long-standing workload, learning support and recruitment/retention (pay and career path) issues and commit to rolling out a major campaign that will be driven by members.

  • Term 4, 2017

    The campaign plan is developed

    Member leaders in all regions start working on local planning and development for rolling out the campaign.

    • Members of the negotiating team are selected
    • NZEI Te Riu Roa begins gathering campaign information and research about issues and starts releasing this to the media to show the depth of issues already facing the teaching profession
    • A report on the 2nd principals, APs and DPs hauora survey  is released showing growing issues in health and wellbeing
  • March, 2018

    Members vote on the plan

    Paid union meetings are held for teachers and principals to discuss and vote on the final campaign plan, refined after member feedback.  This includes the proposed approach to negotiations.

  • March & April, 2018

    Bargaining is initiated

    Letters of initiation for the Primary Principals' and Primary Teachers' Collective Agreements are sent to the Ministry of Education

  • April 16, 2018

    Primary principals' negotiations begin

  • May 8, 2018

    Primary teachers' negotiations begin

  • May 16, 2018

    Primary Principals' Collective Agreement expires

  • May & June, 2018

    The Ministry makes its first offers

    The first offers for settlement of the principals' and teachers' collective agreements are received from the Ministry of Education

  • June 8, 2018

    Primary Teachers' Collective Agreement expires

  • June, 2018

    The decision to strike

    Paid union meetings are held across the country for teachers and principals to vote on the offers received from the Ministry and to vote on potential strike action. Principals and teachers vote to strike for 3 hours. 

  • July, 2018

    Te Kahui Whetu-Miro Māori members analyse campaign and identify some next steps for Māori, including whānau engagement.

  • July term break

    A strong call from members to lengthen the time for the strike is discussed in online fora.

  • July 30, 2018

    A ballot to extend the strike

    Members vote via an online ballot for strike action to be extended to a full day (up from 3 hours). 

  • August 3, 2018

    Community day of action

    Members across the country hold events to highlight the campaign to parents and explain why the strike is necessary.

  • August 15, 2018

    Full day strike action

    Primary teachers and principals hold full day strike action. The first strike in over 24 years. 

  • August, 2018

    Negotiations with the Ministry continue

  • September 10, 2018

    New offers from the Ministry

    NZEI Te Riu Roa receives a new offer (second offer) for primary teachers and principals.

  • September 25, 2018

    Members reject the Ministry's new offers

    Primary teachers and principals voted in an online ballot to reject the Ministry's new offers.

  • October 16 - 25, 2018

    Secret ballot on new strike action

    Members vote to undertake a week of rolling one-day strikes in the week of November 12

  • November 8, 2018

    Facilitation and new offers

    After four days of facilitation, the Ministry of Education made new offers to teachers and principals.

  • November 12 - 16, 2018

    Rolling strike action

    Primary teachers and principals hold a week of rolling one-day strikes.