Labor leader Bill Shorten, a former Australian Workers Union national secretary, says students planning strikes should “ideally” do so “after school hours or on weekends.

Shorten told reporters on Thursday that in his view “kids are allowed to have an opinion,” but that “in an ideal world, they would protest after school hours and on weekends.”

Shorten did, however, take aim at the Coalition for lecturing school kids when it has been “on strike about climate policy for the last five-and-a-half years.”

“They’re really not the best role models for the kids on climate policy, are they?” he said.

A day out from when the protests are set to kick off, people were less than impressed with the opposition leader’s comments.

Greens MP Adam Bandt called Shorten’s comments “gutless,” saying students had every right to walk out of school.

Thousands of students from all over the world are set to ditch school this Friday to protest a lack of action from governments on climate change.

On Thursday, NSW Opposition leader Michael Daley said he supported the students and believed the event would help them realise their own personal power.