Over 100 educational psychologists issue month-long strike notice over 'workforce crisis'

Cropped shot of a psychologist writing notes during a therapeutic session with her patient
Photo credit: Getty Images

Over 120 educational psychologists are going on a month-long strike starting from Tuesday over a "workforce crisis".

APEX Union, which represents the majority of psychologists employed by the Ministry of Education, confirmed after eight months of failed negotiations with the Ministry, members had voted "overwhelmingly" in favour of a nationwide strike. 

On Monday the union formally issued a strike notice for between 5am Tuesday and 5pm on November 2. 

Over the month, more than 120 psychologists working in schools and early childhood centres will stop accepting further referrals of cases onto their caseload.

They hope the campaign will get the Government to "front up" with a commitment to fix the retention crisis of psychologists within the education sector.

"It's time to draw a line in the sand - we need urgent investment from the Government in the salaries paid to psychologists at the Ministry," APEX Union's national secretary Dr Deborah Powell said.

"The Ministry of Education is hemorrhaging experienced psychologists and unless it fixes safe caseloads in place and lifts pay rates for senior psychologists by $12,000 to bring them into line with DHB psychologists the workforce crisis will continue."

She said APEX members are proud of the work they do with New Zealand's most vulnerable children but the situation is "unsustainable".

"Last year nearly 3000 children and young people were sitting on waiting lists for learning support from the Ministry of Education and because of the COVID's impact on young people and education the situation is getting worse," Dr Powell said.

"Psychologists can provide support to these children to allow them to remain in education but not if the Government refuses to pay them consistently with other parts of the Government sector. With over 50 psychologist vacancies nationwide the Ministry urgently needs to return to the table with a sensible offer on pay and workload."