Most primary schools in Netherlands closed as teachers strike for higher salaries
Primary school teachers across the Netherlands are striking today for the second time this year. They want the government to push more money into increasing their salaries and decreasing their workload. PO in Actie, the action group that organized the strike, expects that more than 90 percent of primary school teachers are participating, NOS reports.
In the Rutte III coalition agreement, the government made around 720 million euros available for primary education. But according to PO in Actie, this amount is way too low to fix the problems primary school teachers are facing. They want at least 1.4 billion euros. Jan van de Ven from PO in Actie also points out that they're not getting the 720 million euros right away. "That is not until 2021. Ten million will be added in 2018. It is enough if we have the 1.4 billion. This would allow us to offer a certain basic quality", he said to BNR.
According to Van de Ven, a teacher himself, there is something structurally wrong with education funding in the Netherlands. "What we spend as a percentage of GNP on primary education is 0.3 percent lower than in the countries around us. That is 2.1 billion. We don't ask for that, but the minimum of 1.4 billion", he said to the broadcaster.
The enthusiasm for the strike is very high among the teachers, according to PO in Actie, primary school council PO Raad, and education union AOb. Parents' organization Parents and Education also sees support for the strike among parents, but warns that this support is less than with the previous strike in October. The organization also notes that parents still support reducing teachers' workload, but they have less understanding for their salary demands.
PO in Actie announced the strike last week, giving parents little time to arrange alternative care for their children. Timely and good information about strikes is an important condition not to make the burden on parents unnecessarily large, the Parents and Education said on their website.
"Parents still support teachers to a large extend. But what you do notice is that this support starts to decline with every successive strike and that parents start to worry about the school days their children miss." Peter Hulsen of Parents and Education said to BNR. He adds that these strikes also cost parents extra money. "Even if the school organizes emergency provision, it is up to the parents to pay the costs. A day of out-of-school care quickly becomes a few dozen euros."
Hulsen also wonders what the teachers hope to achieve with this strike. "The government has set out clear financial lines in the coalition agreement. The new minister said several times that this must be it. It is not to be expected that the government will come with a different position. Then the question is what the teachers want to achieve with this", he said to the broadcaster.