The Bulletin: School’s out, everyone is going on strike

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Secondary school teachers vote overwhelmingly for strikes, PM steps in to stop NZDF court costs bid, and Sky TV has a new sport focused CEO.

Secondary school teachers have voted overwhelmingly to strike next year, reports Radio NZ. Teachers in the sector are saying basically the same thing as their primary school colleagues – that the pay isn’t good enough to solve staffing shortages and the corresponding overbearing workloads. On a straight numbers calculation, secondary teachers are asking for a single pay increase of 15%, while the government is offering 3% a year for three consecutive years. A firm date has not yet been set for the strike, but it will be in term 1 if it goes ahead.

In response, education minister Chris Hipkins issued an extremely short statement. “Bargaining with the secondary teachers union is not as advanced as the primary teacher union. We welcome PPTA back to the negotiating table, which is scheduled to happen next week.” So he clearly thinks the strikes can be averted, even if the evidence would suggest otherwise.

National’s response was even more confusing. Spokesperson Nikki Kaye noted that their own pay increases for teachers had been lower than the offer made by the current government, and then linked the issue to entirely unrelated pieces of spending by the current government, like opening an embassy in Sweden. The National party has a poor record to run on in terms of their relationship with teacher unions, and the PPTA spokesperson Jack Boyle went out of his way to say he wasn’t blaming the Ardern government for the situation.

It follows increasing co-operation between the PPTA and NZEI – unions for secondary and primary teachers respectively – with both of their disputes currently unresolved. And there could also be a bit of an influence from what has happened overseas this year. Both unions fielded a visit from West Virginia teacher unionist Dale Lee earlier this year – a US state that saw massive and militant (and ultimately victorious) teacher strikes. His message to NZ teachers was that striking works, and it would seem to be one they’ve taken to heart. But while some parents will support them in that effort, some will also become increasingly frustrated by the disruption the strikes will cause.

Finally, the ministry of education itself is under pressure after putting out a video in an attempt to persuade primary teachers to vote in favour of the latest offer, reports the NZ Herald. Voting will start on Tuesday, and it is being seen by teachers as a “breach of good faith” from the government. The ministry responded by saying the video was “simply communicating the facts.”


The PM has forced the Defence Force to stop seeking legal costs from a female Air Force sergeant who was a victim of sexual offending, reports the NZ Herald. Mariya Taylor suffered at the hands of convicted sex offender Robert Roper, and Jacinda Ardern says dropping the action was “not up for discussion.” The story was originally broken by Stuff, who covered the brutal battle Sergeant Taylor had to fight in court with the NZDF for compensation, during which the NZDF reportedly spent more than $600,000 to block the bid.


Sky TV has appointed a new CEO with a significant background in sport. Martin Stewart is a former CFO of the Football Association in England, and the press release noted that he played “a key role in successful Premier League and UEFA broadcast renewals on behalf of Sky UK.” That would indicate Sky TV is taking the challenge for broadcast rights coming from newly formed Spark Sport very seriously.


Plans for the regulation of vaping have been introduced by the government. Jihee Junn has written about them for The Spinoff, and in terms of where people will be allowed to vape, they’re much the same as the rules on smoking. It’s not really known what the long term health effects are of vaping, but it been useful for getting people to quit smoking, which isn’t exactly great for your health either.


A warning from freshwater ecologist Dr Mike Joy that some New Zealand waterways have gone past the “agricultural tipping point.” He was on Newshub Nation over the weekend, and he’s not confident that new government water standards, set to be in place by 2020, will have the required or desired effect. He’s also skeptical about the claims made by agriculture that almost all waterways are now fenced, saying there are definitional issues that make it a less meaningful measurement. Mike Joy’s solution? Eat less meat, and have fewer farm animals on the land.


Thousands of hospital service workers are in line for a stonking pay rise, reports the NZ Herald on their front page today. Some of them will get up to 40% over 3 years, with negotiations for a new multi-employer collective agreement now settled. The pay rise is being described by one Auckland hospital cleaner as “life changing.”


So what’s going on with the company building the City Rail Link? As Radio NZ reports, it’s the Australian parent company RCR Tomlinson which has gone into liquidation, not the NZ arm RCR New Zealand Limited. They intend to keep going with the contract, but it’s likely the proceedings could have some impact on them. This morning, CRL boss Sean Sweeney is making positive noises about the contract continuing, reports Radio NZ.


John Palino is going for a third-time lucky run at the Auckland mayoralty, reports Newstalk ZB. He’s thrown his hat in the ring again, despite falling to fourth place last time around. It’s not clear if he’ll be the only candidate on the right to put himself forward, with reports last week that National MP Simon O’Connor was considering a bid. Phil Goff is widely expected to stand again, and former Labour MP John Tamihere might also run.


A quick correction: In Friday’s Bulletin, I said that Kiwibank were opening 6 new branches around the country. The actual number is 13. As well as that, it wasn’t FIRST Union who were warning about further possible branch closures – it was E tū Union. Apologies for the errors.


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Mark Zuckerberg at a Senate Judiciary and Commerce committee hearing in April. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Right now on The Spinoff: Toby Manhire is absolutely steamed about the government’s unwillingness to do anything about the power of facebook. Jessica Rose from the group Women in Urbanism has some solutions for where E-Scooters should be allowed to roll. Christchurch thought-leader James Dann has suggested some improvements for the city based on rail, not roads. And Jihee Junn went inside a huge new post-production facility in Auckland, which is keeping film workers very busy.


Can I just go on record and say I absolutely love tabloid-sized newspapers. It’s a tough head to head now between the Herald on Sunday and Sunday Star Times – both are now easy to fold up and read on a windy day. I went with the SST in the end, and it felt really full of meaty news.

You could open up the paper almost at random and find something worth reading. Pages 10 and 11, for example, were excellent. The major story was from Tony Wall, who wrote about a chip shop in Maketu. They’ve had their bank accounts cracked down on, in part because of the owner’s links to the Mongrel Mob. He has been accused of the police of drug dealing, and had also previously been acquitted of money laundering. But under the law governing police asset seizures, there’s a much lower threshold to action. Now ANZ has also closed his accounts. It was a good, thoughtful story that left the reader plenty to ponder.

The other story on the spread was an important update on the mental toll firefighters are suffering on the job, from Rebecca MooreThe nature of their job – which requires them to do so much more than putting out fires – has pushed an increasing number of firefighters to seek mental health support. It’s also seen as a sign that there’s now more awareness and accessibility of these services.

There’s two major newsrooms producing Sunday newspapers, and most parts of the country have their own Saturday paper. Pretty much all of the newsrooms that do weekend papers tend to save up a few of their best stories for them. People have more time to digest what they’re reading, so there’s more scope for great features too. Buying a weekend paper is a pretty good way to support that sort of work being done, especially if you don’t subscribe to the daily.


Local football has just seen a magnificent triumph based on a change of mindset. The U17 Football Ferns are into the World Cup semi-finals, taking down Japan (!) in the quarters in a shootout, after regulation time finished 1-1. You might recall the adult Football Ferns played Japan earlier this year – well, Jason Pine certainly remembered.

The football commentator played a big cut of audio from former Football Ferns coach Andreas Heraf, while filling in on hosting duties for the Devlin Radio Show on Newstalk ZB. Heraf famously didn’t think New Zealand teams were capable of actually playing some football and competing with bigger teams, so had the entire player pathway system geared towards dour, grim defensive play. But the U17s aren’t playing like that at all, and the results are showing. Their semifinal against Spain is on Thursday morning. To put this achievement in context, it’s the first time any NZ team has reached this stage of any Football World Cup.

So did you know that the Auckland Tuatara baseball team are live streaming their games for free on youtube? That was a cool thing to discover on Friday evening, when they recorded their first ever competition win, thanks to – I kid you not – a winning run in the bottom of the ninth. I don’t know anything about baseball but that phrase is still dramatic. The had a good weekend overall, winning the series against Brisbane 2-1. And as this piece from Newshub’s Stephen Foote shows, something pretty special could really be building for the Tuatara. They’ve started humble, but are taking the room that gives to grow.

Finally, squash player Joelle King has won the prestigious Hong Kong Open, reports the South China Morning Post in this wonderfully flowery write up of the victory. It’s the first ‘Platinum’ tournament on the World Series tour King has won – that’s the top tier of the game. Joelle King has had an amazing year, after also winning gold at the Commonwealth Games.


From our partners: Lithium-ion batteries are magnificent feats of engineering and vital for renewable energy. But if we’re not careful with them, they’ll create enormous environmental problems, writes Vector Senior Sustainability Advisor Juhi Shareef.


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