Sharyn Spotswood, a teacher of 20 years, has reached the top of her pay scale. But she is still having to take $400 from her savings each week and those savings have now run dry.
Spotswood, a learning support coordinator for two Wellington region schools, is speaking out as unionised educators from preschools, primary and secondary schools across the country prepare for their biggest strike ever.
“I cannot afford to strike” she said. “I cannot afford not to strike.”
Marches, rallies and demonstrations are planned across New Zealand when 50,000 educators will walk off the job on Thursday in the first ever simultaneous strike of union members from kindergartens to college.
* Starting teachers earn $1.99 more than new minimum wage
* Inside the big pay bump teachers are rejecting as they prepare to strike
* Tens of thousands of teachers will vote on latest pay offer this week
Pay is a major reason for the strike but staff to student ratios are also on the table. The Government has what it believes is a generous offer on the table but unions argue that it doesn’t even meet inflation – not forgetting the low pay teachers were on even before New Zealand’s inflation rate soared.
Spotswood, a mother of three children aged 11 to 15, considers herself lucky: She is at the top of the pay scale and earns about $85,000 a year. She and her husband bought their home “many years ago when prices were low”.
But, until her savings ran out about two weeks ago, and with her husband currently between jobs, they were having to take $400 per week from savings just to cover the basics.