Learning support specialists' strike kicks off in Auckland

Learning support specialists have kicked off a nationwide strike on Tuesday morning.

Around 550 learning support specialists, who are members of NZEI Te Riu Roa and employed by the Ministry, are protesting over their workloads and pay.

There are 18 strike events happening in towns and cities across the country.

Around 100 people gathered outside the Ministry of Education offices on Normanby Rd in Auckland and marched to Tahaki Reserve at 11am.

In Wellington, learning support specialists gathered at the cenotaph outside Parliament and marched to Education House on Willis St at 1130am.

In Christchurch, learning support specialists will march to Labour MP Dr Duncan Webb's office at 1:30pm.

Learning support specialists include psychologists, speech language therapists, early intervention teachers and occupational therapists.

Strikers outside the Ministry of Education offices in Auckland.
Strikers outside the Ministry of Education offices in Auckland. Photo credit: Newshub

Their latest employment offer from the Ministry of Education was for a pay rise of 2 percent on ratification and a further 2 percent by March 2019, and NZEI Te Riu Roa said that was not enough.

Executive member Byron Sanders said there were vacancies across the country that weren't being filled because of demanding workloads and low remuneration, putting extra pressure on specialists.

"We're willing to negotiate, we're willing to have things go both ways but what we're saying right now is a 2 percent pay rise is not good enough and no work going into ensuring that we have manageable workloads is not good enough," he told Newshub.

Council of Trade Unions Secretary Sam Huggard said: "No education sector professional wants to take industrial action to get a decent pay deal. However, two percent a year is not an appropriate offer given the cost pressures working people are facing."

Mr Huggard said a two percent pay increase was not enough to attract new learning support specialists to the profession.

Newshub.