Up to 1000 Tauranga teachers will march off the job tomorrow for the "biggest strike this country has ever seen".
Primary and secondary school teachers across New Zealand voted earlier this month to strike on May 29 for better pay and work conditions. In the Bay of Plenty, 148 schools will shut their doors - the second highest number in the country.
However, the Government's offer of $1.2 billion over four years is not expected to budge.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the offer would bring teachers into the top 20 per cent of income earners.
The industrial action is expected to be the largest strike by teachers and first ever combined teachers' strike, with 50,000 nationwide expected on the picket lines.
About 800,000 students are expected to be affected.
In Tauranga, a 2km section of Cameron Rd will close with traffic control and detours in place from around midday.
New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) Tauranga representative Andrea Andresen said this would be the "biggest strike this country has ever seen".
Andresen said she hoped the marches would communicate loud and clear to the Government they were serious and had a lot of support.
She said interest had even been expressed by loads of parents, who were keen on getting behind the teachers.
Parent Erika Harvey said she was going to support the teachers as she believed they had one of the most difficult jobs.
Harvey said it was not just about their wages, it was about equipping the schools and teachers with adequate time, training and funding to handle a variety of learning needs.
Ministry of Education deputy secretary for early learning and student achievement Ellen MacGregor-Reid said striking over $1.2b in pay offers did not offer a solution but instead would cause disruption to the learning of thousands of young people.
Western Bay of Plenty PPTA chairwoman Rebecca Holmes said the feeling was mixed among secondary teachers as it had been nearly a decade since their last industrial action.
Holmes said they felt a sense of unity with their fellow teachers but also disappointed that they had to use their "last resort" of industrial action.
She hoped they could come to a place to negotiate a "fair and equitable" deal with the Government.
The Ministry offered both unions pay rises of three per cent a year for three years, taking the total pay rise for a majority of teachers to 12.6 per cent over three years.
However, many teachers were putting more weight on the lack of release time and the heavy workload.
The PPTA wants an extra hour of non-classroom time for all secondary teachers, lifting non-contact time from five hours to six hours a week.
The NZEI wants two hours a week in non-contact time, plus reduced class sizes, more resource teachers and a special needs co-ordinator in every school.
To address workload, the Government provided for 600 learning support coordinators, removed national standards, advanced a review of NCEA and offered additional release time in the offer.
Timeline of the strike11.30am - Teachers will gather near the Tauranga racecourse for pre-march activities, including balloon blowing and message writing.
12pm - Speakers will address the crowds.
12.30pm - The march will begin on Chadwick Rd before turning on to Cameron Rd in the northbound lane. Teachers will be dropping messages off at MPs' offices on the way.
1.30/2pm - The march will wrap up as teachers reach Tauranga Girls' College.
Erika & Dan Harvey
A blog about our journey through the spectrum with our daughter Piper. Enjoy and feel free to share with others.