Teachers strike could shut Dutch primary schools for days

Primary school teachers in the Netherlands are demanding higher salaries and smaller class sizes. If the new government does not address both these issues in their coalition agreement, the teachers will strike for a week. "The willingness to act is greater than ever before", Jan van de Ven, teacher in Overloon and spokesperson for primary school teacher action group PO in Actie, said to newspaper AD. The strike will be "probably in September, and not in a nice week that matches with the holiday."

Over 36 thousand teachers from across the Netherlands joined with PO in Actie. A recent poll among 7 thousand of its members showed that 97 percent are willing and ready to strike. "A sign on the wall, a clear signal: the classes are too big, many teachers suffer from burnout, the shortage of teachers is rising rapidly, the administrative burden is too high and o."

General education union AOb also decided to poll its 82 thousand members on their readiness to take action, following PO in Actie's poll. "We also observed a very large readiness to act", spokesperson Thijs den Otter said to AD. "Of the more than 5,000 respondents, 91 percent are prepared to take action if no extra money is given for higher salaries and lower workload. In primary education it is even 94 percent, and 73 percent of them expressed a preference for a strike."

AOb chairman Liesbeth Verheggen is pleased with the outcome of the poll. "I think it's a good signal to the government in The Hague", she said to RTL Nieuws. "A new government cannot afford the luxury of choosing workload lightening or pay rise: both must be addressed. In the run up to the election it is not for nothing that we demanded 2.3 billion euros for workload control and 3.6 billion for salaries in our sector. There is overdue maintenance. It must be both."