The union’s comments come after Treasury revealed a strong surplus on Tuesday of $5.5 billion, $2.4 billion above the Budget 2018 forecast.

NZEI has rejected the Ministry of Education’s latest offers and members will vote next week on whether to hold a week of rolling one-day strikes in November.

NZEI president Lynda Stuart said news of a bumper surplus provided an opportunity for the Government to revise its offer to primary teachers and principals and avoid further strikes.

“[Strike action is] disruptive to parents, to children and to teachers, support staff and principals themselves, but when [members] vote next week they’ll be weighing up that short term disruption against the long term disruption the teacher shortage is causing to children’s education.

 “The Government has the power to put a stop to all of this if they come back to the table with an offer that adequately addresses the crisis education is in,” she warned.

In August, primary teachers and principals went on strike for the first time in more than two decades, with thousands of educators and their supporters taking to the streets.

The union said that yesterday’s $5.5 billion surplus is almost six times the estimated $921 million annual cost for the Government to meet primary teachers’ and principals’ claims – including smaller class sizes, more specialist learning support, an increase in professional development and classroom release time, and a 16 per cent pay increase.

 “Up until now the Government has said they don’t have the money to improve their offer to teachers,” Stuart said.

“Today’s figures show the Government has the room to move, if they have the political will to do so.”