What's next for principals

Primary and intermediate principals have voted to stop communication with the Ministry of Education and cease participation in any Ministry-led work groups, taskforces or meetings.

This follows the rejection of the Ministry's latest collective agreement offer in June, and nationwide action on 2 July that saw hundreds of primary and intermediate principals delivering letters to Ministry of Education offices across the country.

The result of the ballot is a reflection of the anger and concern principals have that longstanding wellbeing and workload issues haven't been addressed, and that parity with secondary principals was not offered.

This is about sending a strong signal to the Ministry that the goodwill they rely on has run out. While principals are disengaging from all external Ministry contact and work, they'll be focusing on the most important part of their jobs - our children and the running of our schools.

What this disengagement action looks like

From Monday 8 July there will be a ban on the following work:


a. all work which is participation in any work group, taskforce, or panel which has as a member any employee of or contractor to the Ministry of Education;

b. all work which is preparation for or communication about any such work group, taskforce or panel;

c. all work which is the receiving or reading of any written report or evaluation prepared by or for the Ministry of Education;

d. any work which is the collecting or collating of information for the purpose of providing it to the Ministry of Education;

e. all work introducing or implementing of any new Ministry of Education initiative (including any implementation of the new digital curriculum);

f. all work which is meeting or dealing with any Ministry of Education staff member or contractor who visits a school (unless the person is invited by the school);

g. all work which is participation in Ministry of Education PLD whether on line or face to face;

h. all work which consists of meetings with or discussions with any employee of, or contractor to, the Ministry of Education;

i. any work which is the submitting of the 1 July 2019 roll return prior to 22 July 2019 on which date the 1 July 2019 roll return will be submitted.


The strike will end at 11.59pm on 16 August 2019.

How it will affect principals and schools

What does it mean for principals' pay?

The law has changed and employers can no longer dock pay for partial strike action.

Other than the actions in the strike, principals continue to carry out all of the components of their roles. The actions are designed to persuade the Ministry to address the issues around fairness, equity and principals' health and wellbeing that principals identified as being the basis of their rejection of the previous Ministry offer.

The only way in which principals' pay would be affected would be if the Ministry suspended principals for taking this action. NZEI cannot say whether or not that would happen as it would be entirely a Ministry / government call. It would, however, be an extremely unusual and provocative move, given the nature of the issues principals are seeking to have addressed.


What about other staff?

The law is clear: your employer cannot require other staff to do the work of a striking principal without their agreement. They are entitled to refuse.


How will the action affect schools?

The underlying principles of these actions is that they cause minimal disadvantage to students, schools or school communities, if any. It's important we communicate with our school communities to explain why we're undertaking this action.


How will the delay in submitting July roll returns affect schools?

This action is designed to inconvenience the Ministry's processing of the roll returns. We think this is unlikely to have any significant consequences on school resourcing.


Should I be interacting with ERO?

The action at this time does not affect interactions with ERO.


I've been waiting for years for the Ministry to discuss plans for building work at my school. Now that it's finally happening, should I cancel our meeting?

If you can't reschedule the meeting soon after 16 August and/or any delay would disadvantage your school community, you should go ahead with the meeting.


If a teacher is acting principal in my absence should they disengage?

No if they are on the PTCA, yes if they are on the PPCA.


My board is suggesting that some teaching staff could/should pick up the Ministry work that I'm not doing. Can they do that?

Boards can not require teachers to take on the work of principals undertaking industrial action. Make sure your teachers know that they are legally entitled to refuse and that you appreciate their support in this matter.


What about my involvement in my Community of Learning?

CoLs aren't included in this action.


There's some ministry-led PLD happening that will be really beneficial. Should I go or not?

Talk with other principals in your area so you can decide as a group whether it would be appropriate to attend. You should defer attending any PLD during the disengagement period unless to do so would be demonstrably detrimental to your students, staff or school.


Should I be interacting with ministry staff about individual students?

If ministry staff such as service managers and field staff want to discuss plans for individual students, you should do so, as this will be for the benefit of the student. Likewise, you can initiate contact with the ministry in this instance.


What are the lessons from the learning support service managers?

Earlier this year learning support service managers working for the Ministry undertook similar strike action from January to April, refusing to undertake certain tasks. They were threatened with suspension, but ultimately their action resulted in talks and a settlement.


What's happening with secondary school principals' bargaining?

The Ministry has not yet made an offer for settlement to secondary principals. The next negotiations for them are scheduled for later in July.