Hundreds turn out against Christchurch School closures

Rally against school closuresWhile Christchurch primary school teachers had planned to take industrial action on February 19th this was called off just a few days prior. Under the Employment Relations Act strikes outside of bargaining are outlawed, had this strike taken place it would have been the first one to challenge the anti-strike laws.

In the end however, action took the form of a rally outside of school hours. Over a 1500 people gathered at the CBS arena in Addington, the number were made of up of teachers, parents, children and other supporters include from a number of other unions.

After a number of short speeches attendees voted on a motion of no confidence in Hekia Parata’s record as Education Minister. That motion was then delivered to the ministry of education following a lively march which included chants of “when Christchurch schools are under attack, stand up! Fight back!” and “Hek no- she must go!”

A Fairfax poll released the day after the education rally showed that 71% of people in Canterbury thought Parata should be stripped of the education portfolio. In addition to the “shake up” in Christchurch (seven schools to be closed and 12 to be merged) Parata has presided over the ongoing problems with Novapay and last year attempted to increase class sizes being backing down.

Of course, handing the education portfolio to another minister would not fix the problems faced in Christchurch any more than stripping Paula Bennett of the welfare policy would stop the government’s insidious welfare reforms. Government policy appears to be what has been termed “disaster capitalism” using a natural disaster as an excuse to restructure education in the city, both though the current closures and later through the imposition of charter schools.

The government’s plans can be defeated if teachers and supporters take militant action, particularly in the workplace.


  1. So, we’ve all watched, “The Shock Doctrine,” we know their game, but what’s our play? How do we as Socialists help the people of Christchurch?

    Milton Friedman said, “The new order is formed around the ideas that are curent at the time (whatever those happen to be).

    If attractive Socialist ideas are not out-competing the neo-liberal wrecking ball, this crisis can only serve to *strengthen* their grip.

    What is the Socialist Alternative, besides “wait and see what develops”? What new and better ideas do we offer instead?

    • Don’t have a full and satisfying answer to your questions here, revolutionary socialists have a very long way to go, but the Fightback position is not “wait and see.”

      We are, as a starting point, advocating political strikes. It’s illegal, but absolutely necessary. Christchurch comrades attended the teachers’ march with our February Spark, which leads with support for political strikes in schools.

  2. How did The Spark go? How many were sold, for instance?


  3. Right…So no concern about the one in five who fail in our highly over rated eduction system. No worries at all about the fact that skilled teachers are leaving because they cannot be paid what they are worth. Nope….just use kids as pawns in the battle to defeat the Nat’s.
    The education of our kids should be something that is above politics, it should be all about fixing our failing education system however what this dispute shows is that for unionists the kids are irrelevant.

    It is no wonder that most of the Kiwi workforce do not belong to a union. Unions are seen as self servers and largely corrupt. Not even the threat of a prosecution would see me join a union.

    • This is a short report on a demonstration, its a real stretch to say that because we didn’t mention it in this article our organisation (or the unions, not sure who you a referring to?) doesn’t have a concern for people failing in school or the loss of skilled teachers because they are underpaid. In fact the idea that we’re not concerned about workers being underpaid adds to my “big bruv is just a troll not worth engaging with” theory.

      I’m not sure about this “using kids as pawns” stuff you’re getting at, take this teacher for example who is torn between staying out the year so as not to disrupt the lives of her students, and securing a job elsewhere to provide for her family.
      or this parent, who is concerned about the impact the school closures will have on her children.

      There was a sign at the rally “close our schools, lose our votes” some parents and teachers were National voters before this, I think its over simplifying to say they only care about school closures because its an opportunity to attack the National Party

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