Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Another teacher strike looms after offer rejected, Crusaders sources say PM’s office is pressuring for name change, and warnings sounded over prescription drug.
Negotiations between the NZEI and the government have hit another roadblock, with primary teachers overwhelmingly rejecting the offered deal. In a release, they said the ball was now in the government’s court to improve the offer – with the total package costed at around $700 million. If not, they’re warning that a campaign of strike action will begin in the middle of May, with two weeks of ‘work to rule’ policies followed by a national day of strike action.
The arguments that the union is making have been well covered, and the negotiation positions are reported on in the most depth by the NZ Herald. Teachers say the sector is dangerously under-resourced, and pay and conditions need to be fundamentally and structurally improved to keep teachers in the profession. There’s a huge shortage of teachers, and teachers say the current offer won’t make a difference.
So with the government saying there isn’t any more money, where to now? A ministry spokesperson told the NZ Herald they were open to discussing how the package got allocated. But they say it can’t really be improved, and especially not to the level that the NZEI is asking for. That was pointed out in this interview on Checkpoint last night, with NZEI President Lynda Stuart being reminded that the Employment Relations Authority has previously sided with the government over whether the offer was fair. Ms Stuart countered that they didn’t agree that their request was unrealistic, and pointed out that teachers just aren’t lasting long in the job before leaving under current conditions. It isn’t clear whether there can be a forced mediation or settlement to end the dispute.
Strikes were set to take place at the start of the month, but were cancelled after the Christchurch attacks. But now they’re back on the table, and could involve secondary school teachers as well, who also have an unresolved dispute. And for the government, it’s a continuation of a headache that lingered throughout pretty much all of last year.
For education minister Chris Hipkins as well, it’s another serving of pain on a plate. He gave a wide ranging interview to Q+A last night (part one and two here) and it was notable how much the topics jumped around. His workload already included rolling out a fees free policy for Universities, trying to reform the ITO and polytech sector, and dramatic changes to how schools are governed. Somehow as well he’s also got to find the brain capacity to think about whether Victoria University’s name should be changed, and and other flare-ups that occur. Mr Hipkins came into office with the fresh features of a Head Prefect. By the time this term is up, he might look more like a long-serving deputy Principal, such are the pressures he’s under.
Crusaders sources have told Newstalk ZB’s Alex Mason that PM Ardern and Minister for Sport Grant Robertson are pushing behind the scenes for a name change. That could contradict what the PM says her role has been, which she says has been to merely observe the process. The report also indicates there is a feeling within the Super Rugby franchise that a name change is basically a done deal, with the consultation process “about being seen to do the right thing.” The write-up of the story has been published on the NZ Herald. (UPDATE) Woah, huge and heavy denials from all of the PM, Grant Robertson, and Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge, who all say there is no truth to the story. Full update in tomorrow’s Bulletin.
Warnings are being sounded about a prescription drug linked to overdoses in the US opioid epidemic, reports Stuff.
Bad weather is closing in on the West Coast again, putting at risk rubbish cleanup efforts. One News reported last night that despite a huge volunteer turnout, there’s still an enormous amount to do, and more rain could stir up rubbish that got trapped on riverbeds and under the sea floor. Much of the coastline is inaccessible, which will also make life difficult for those pitching in. Witnesses are reporting seeing sea birds and other wildlife eating the plastic as well, which for many could be fatal.
Terms of reference for the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch mosque attack have been released. Supreme Court Justice Sir William Young will chair it, and it is expected to report back in December. Stuff reports it will look at “the specific circumstances leading up to the mosque shootings on March 15 that left 50 people dead.” PM Jacinda Ardern says the appointment of a Supreme Court judge ensures it will be able to operate independently of the government.
Environmental groups are pushing for changes to regulations around forestry, reports Radio NZ. It comes from an analysis conducted by the EDS and Forest and Bird, in the wake of disasters like the one that hit Tologa Bay last year, where massive volumes of logging debris was sent flying by heavy rain. The groups say forestry comes with high risks, both for worker safety and environmental effects, and regulation needed to be tougher.
Here’s a story that could send interesting ripples through the business world. The head of the Financial Markets Authority has savaged the principle of shareholder primacy in business, reports Interest, saying instead companies should be anchored in what’s good for the community and the country. It remains to be seen whether the words are a statement of intent towards action, though Rob Everett assured his audience that he hadn’t “gone Communist.” But it does reflect what seems to be an increasingly popular mood around the world that the ruthless aspects of capitalism have gone too far.
If someone on Waiheke Island isn’t getting back to your emails, this might be why. The NZ Herald reports a sea cable has been cut, badly affecting cellphone and broadband coverage. It could take days to repair. (UPDATE, 7.22am) Actually, it has been fixed after all, and the fault was on land, so please disregard the earlier version.
Finally, if there’s a journalist in your life who seems especially tense and irritable this morning, there might be a reason for that. Finalists for the Voyager Media Awards are expected to be announced today. Good luck to everyone in our industry, but in the fine tradition of journalistic competition and pettiness, hopefully the luck of people from other organisations isn’t too good, you know?
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The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.