Teachers to take strike action
Hundreds of Christchurch teachers have decided to strike over the Education Ministry's overhaul of the region's schools.
The New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) voted overwhelming this afternoon to strike on February 19 next year, the day after Education Minister Hekia Parata advises schools of the ministry's plans for their future.
The NZEI had called the meeting of Christchurch members to decide whether to take industrial action over the Government's education overhaul.
Over 500 members voted this afternoon in favour of the strike.
President Ian Leckie told The Press after the meeting the Government's plans "aren't acceptable".
"The huge majority have said quite clearly that this process is flawed, and quite clearly the actions that are going to be taken need to be reconsidered. They [the Ministry] need to stop and start again."
Leckie told Radio New Zealand this morning that teachers, principals and support staff were saying "enough is enough".
The meeting arose from its members' concern about the proposals to merge, move or close some of the city's schools.
NZEI members felt there was a lack of real consultation over the proposals and an unrealistic time-frame imposed on schools to respond, he said.
"Quite clearly this has to stop. It has to be redone and redone properly.
"Thirty-eight schools closing or merging - that's extreme measures. It's ridiculous measures far beyond what is needed. Quite clearly people are upset not just about the decisions but the consultation," he said.
Leckie told The Press schools were concerned the ministry had based its proposals to close 13 and put 26 through some form of merger on "wrong or poor quality information".
NZEI is the country's largest education union, representing about 50,000 principals, teachers and support staff working in primary, intermediate and secondary schools as well as early childhood centres, special education and school advisory services.
Members work at almost every education facility in Christchurch.
Schools affected by the proposals have until Friday to complete a 10-week consultation period and hand in submissions to the ministry.
"Amongst the concerns from teachers and school communities is a lack of any real consultation over the proposals and the unrealistic time frame imposed on schools to respond," Leckie said.
Last night a spokesman for the ministry said NZEI Te Riu Roa has not approached it with any specific concerns about the information provided as part of its plans for Christchurch.
"The data used in formulating the proposals is robust. It was drawn from information provided by schools [rolls and infrastructure] and informed by reports from property professionals, the Christchurch City Council, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, and other agencies."
While the ministry admitted there have been some errors, the spokesman said: "In every case where an inaccuracy has been raised by schools, the ministry has investigated and clarified or updated it as appropriate.
"All of the information has been provided to schools in good faith based on the best information available at the time. In some cases this has been superseded as result of more recent student roll and property related information."