Hunger strikes, a 180km march, 3-month walkouts: Teacher protests around the world

2019-04-18 22:38:01

Primary teachers in Auckland walked off the job on Monday for the first day of a week of rolling strike action.

By Friday, nearly 30,000 teachers and principals will have had their turn on the picket line, and 30,000 children will have been out of class.

The union NZEI is demanding reduced workloads, smaller classes and more professional development time, as well as a pay rise. It said the latest offer – rejected last week – didn't cut it.

Kiwi teachers aren't the only ones who have been protesting this year. Around the world, educators have walked off the job, sometimes for months at a time.

Here's how New Zealand compares.


A wave of teachers' strikes has spread across the States this year.

It started in West Virginia, where 20,000 teachers walked off the job in February and March for nine days in a row, securing a 5 per cent pay rise.

In Oklahoma, another nine-day walkout saw half a million students out of class. Hundreds of teachers marched 180 kilometres to the state capitol in Oklahoma City to demand pay increases and better classroom funding, paid for by a tax hike.

It was hailed as a partial victory. Teachers got a $6100 pay rise and limited money was earmarked for school funding through increased taxes on tobacco, online shopping and fracking, but it was a fraction of the $3.3 billion package they demanded.

Teachers in Georgia went on hunger strike, vowing to go without solid food for 14 days.

About 40 teachers joined the action, calling on the state to continue to fully fund education – something that was done for the first time in 2018 after 15 years of austerity cuts.

The strike was ended after political candidates committed to the funding for the next four years.

A week-long strike in Arizona ended with a 20 per cent pay hike for teachers by 2020, though significant demands around restoring cut funding were not met.

When teachers in Colorado went on strike in May, it was for the first time in 24 years – the same as New Zealand's primary educators. They were asking for a 2 per cent cost-of-living increase to their wages, plus an increased contribution to their health insurance, both of which were granted.

Teachers in Jersey City went on strike over health insurance, Kentucky educators rallied against a pension-reform bill and the start to the September school term in Tacoma, Washington, was delayed until teachers secured a 14.4 per cent pay rise.

Teachers in the US aren't just taking to the streets - they're also taking office.

A record number of teachers ran in the US midterm elections, with more than 1000 educators on the ballots nationwide. There were some notable victories, including Jahana Hayes, 2016's national teacher of the year and Connecticut's first black woman elected to Congress.


The Argentine school year kicked off with a 48-hour nationwide strike, and similar actions have followed. The education unions are demanding a 30 per cent pay rise for teachers, which would keep their salaries in line with inflation.


For two weeks in June, 80,000 Mexican teachers abandoned their classrooms, demanding the repeal of educational reforms.

About 12,000 teachers set up camp in the state capital of Oaxaca, and 1000 more travelled to Mexico City for a sit-in.


Iranian teachers went on strike for two days in October demanding the release of imprisoned teachers' rights activists, free education, better pay and the right to protest and strike without the threat of arrest.

Teachers in more than a dozen cities staged "sit-ins", going to school but refusing to teach.

Four teachers who participated in the protest were detained, and several more were summoned to court, the Centre for Human Rights in Iran reported.


Hundreds of teachers in Algeria stuck out a three-month strike over pay and working conditions. Members of several other teaching unions have taken part in smaller strikes this year, including a nationwide general strike in public schools and hospitals in February.


Teachers in Tunisia have held multiple protests this year, including public rallies, a marking boycott and an eight-day strike.


There have been multiple long-running teachers' strikes in Guinea this year, leading to protests from students angry at the disruption to their education. Some students may have to repeat the school year bceuase they've missed so much class time, it has been reported.


Teachers in Cyprus staged a 48-hour walkout in September to protest a raft of money-saving measures, which they said the government planned to implement without consulting them.

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