Signs at the last round of teacher strikes (Photo: Emily Writes)

The Bulletin: Teacher strikes begin under ERA cloud

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: ERA hits out at teacher demands ahead of strike, police want new terrorism powers, and Supreme Court makes big call on prisoner voting. 

The week of rolling primary teachers strikes begins today, with teachers under pressure after a rebuke from the Employment Relations Authority. Radio NZ reports the ERA have described teacher expectations as “totally unrealistic,” and the chief economist of the ERA described the government’s offer as “handsome.” The total cost difference of the competing pay structures diverge wildly too – according to the ERA the government is offering a $700 million package, and teachers want $2.5 billion.

On the other hand, why shouldn’t teachers demand that much? Whole generations of teachers have come and gone knowing that their profession is undervalued. They’re arguing that any offer needs to go way beyond a “business as usual” approach to pay rises, where even in a good year little changes structurally. We’ve heard all year too about the crisis in the profession, with fewer and fewer teachers staying in, and recruitment drives overseas being needed. Much like when nurses went on strike, it’s a reminder that some professions are incredibly important for society to continue to function.

They’ve also got a bit of power behind them, as the logistics of the strike plans show. Events are going to take place all over the country, and it really is everywhere around the country too – there’s going to be a rally in Levin tomorrow, for example. That’s a base that shouldn’t be sniffed at when it comes to sheer collective power. It will all start around 7.30am in Auckland.

But it’s also possible public sentiment will turn against teachers this week. This will be really difficult to measure, but you’ll probably see a whole lot of wildly unscientific internet polls being bandied about to ‘prove’ or ‘disprove’ the contention. And the current government stance is that of a stern parent – they’re “disappointed the strikes are going ahead,” says education minister Chris Hipkins in this NZ Herald story. Not angry, just disappointed.

How this week plays out will one day be a fascinating case study in mass-based industrial action, but in the mean time, some of you are parents with primary school age kids. Stuff have put together a cheat sheet with all parents will need to know about the strikes. It will all wrap up in Wellington on Friday.


GCSB and SIS minister Andrew Little says current terrorism laws are unworkable, and has ordered officials to review them, reports Stuff. Police have been loathe to use the law since the Urewera Raids in 2007, which terrorised the town of Ruatoki, and resulted in a small group of activists being arrested, with the charges against them mostly dropped. The push from police is to have greater powers for early intervention, but there are concerns that the review of the laws will not be independent enough from the government to inspire confidence in their conclusions.


Here’s a big case from late last week, in case you missed it. The Supreme Court has ruled that denying prisoners the vote is inconsistent with the Bill of Rights. The case came about after a long running campaign from jailhouse lawyer Arthur Taylor, and other prisoners. While the government is not required to change the law based on the declaration, the Howard League for Penal Reform argues the time is right to debate that, reports Radio NZ. The ban has been in place since 2010.

Meanwhile, corrections minister Kelvin Davis has been quietly achieving a big reduction in prisoner numbers through savvy reforms. That was outlined in this story on The Hui, which presented a very different side of Mr Davis, compared to his bumbling performances in parliament. Prisoner numbers have come down by more than 500 people since he took the job, and the reduction from the peak in March of 10,800 prisoners has been even larger. It costs the country about $100,000 a year to imprison someone.


This is a troubling story on the front page of the NZ Herald today, about the impact school expulsions can have on early deaths. New research has found that those who die before the age of 25, either in accidents or by suicide, are 100 times more likely to have been kicked out of school. The study authors say it shows how much of a red flag expulsions are for bad life outcomes, and should be seen by support services as a cry for help.


Provincial growth fund minister Shane Jones has had to correct the record after failing to declare 61 meetings, reports Radio NZ. That’s concerning, because some of the meetings were with people with an interest in getting some money from the fund. It’s a breaking story this morning, so watch this space.


Workers in the gig economy are struggling to make it into more permanent work, reports the NZ Herald. That conclusion is based of a University of Auckland study, that looked at patterns in the French workforce. It is prompting calls for labour laws to be modernised to better protect the rights and conditions of the likes of Uber drivers and other gig economy workers.


Immigration minister Iain Lees-Galloway’s job appears to be safe with regards to the Karel Sroubek case, reports the NZ Herald. The case itself has gone through a range of twists and turns, but the decision that really matters for a politician seems to have been made. PM Jacinda Ardern has declared not only that she won’t be asking for his resignation, she also wouldn’t accept it if it was offered. But of course, we’ll see what happens this week.


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Image: Imperial War Museum

Right now on The Spinoff: Don Rowe has seen the new Sir Peter Jackson documentary about WW1 soldiers, and describes it as a “haunting masterpiece.” Thomas Nash from the New Zealand Alternative think-tank argues that Armistice Day highlights the need for more independent institutions that would promote peace.  Amanda Kennedy from The Fan Brigade writes about the very real dangers of being a woman in comedy. And we’ve got a perspective on the midterm elections in the US, from NZer and political staffer Robin Campbell, who know lives, works and volunteers on campaigns in New York.


The role of broadcasting in language revitalisation is in focus in this piece on E-TangataIt’s by producer Quinton Hita, and pours cold water on the idea that Māori language broadcasting can save te reo – in part because under the current system making Māori language broadcasting isn’t sustainable. It’s part of a really interesting series of articles about Māori media published by E-Tangata over the weekend. Here’s an excerpt from the one by Mr Hita:

“So how have I survived? I partnered with South Pacific Pictures. The system is broken, my friend.

I’ve also been a pāpā for two decades. I’ve worked with kids through my whole broadcasting career (Pūkana, then Pūkoro), and I chair the board of the amazing kura my children attend, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kaikohe.

The sad truth is our kids don’t really watch te reo Māori television. Or listen to te reo Māori radio. If they do, it’s not improving their ability to kōrero. So the outcomes in terms of the language aren’t educational. The kids don’t consume enough on TV or radio in te reo to make a difference.

In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that, given all the variables, the only real hope for the language to survive is kura. If so, then how can we best help those schools?”


The White Ferns are up against it already at the Cricket World Cup in the West Indies, after losing their first game against India. The result means they’ll almost certainly have to beat Australia on the 14th to advance into the semi-finals. In the men’s cricket, the Black Caps are currently in the middle of a rain-affected chase in the ODI series decider against Pakistan – here’s a live scorecard.

And the All Blacks beat England, but only just, scraping out a 16-15 win at Twickenham. Perhaps the strangest thing about the game was how the scoring played out, reports the NZ Herald. England scored 2 tries (could it have been 3?) for the All Blacks’ 1, and weirdest of all, the ABs only won because Beauden Barrett kicked a drop-goal. Rugby really has changed.


From our partners, World Energy Day has put a spotlight on New Zealand’s sluggish progress towards net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Vector’s Beth Johnson explains why the time is right to accelerate.


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