Strike: Northern Netherlands primary school teachers on picket line

Primary school classroom (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Douglas P Perkins). (Primary school classroom (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Douglas P Perkins))

The majority of primary schools in Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe are closed today as around 6 thousand teachers go on strike for higher salaries and lower workloads. This is the first of a relay strike, starting today in the North. On March 14th primary school teachers in Flevoland, Utrecht, and Noord-Holland will strike, combined with a demonstration in Amsterdam, NOS reports.

The strikes are supported by the PO-Front, a joint action group consisting of trade unions, school leaders and managers.

Last week the unions and Minister Arie Slob of Primary- and Secondary Education reached an agreement about reducing the workload for primary school teachers. The government is giving schools an extra 237 million euros next year to hire more teachers. This amount comes on top of the around 500 million euros for reducing workload and 270 million euros for increasing salaries the Rutte III government promised teachers in the coalition agreement. 

According to the PO-Front, this is not enough. The action group wants the government to give primary education another 630 million euros for higher wages. 

This is the third primary school teachers strike in the past four months. On October 5th and December 12th primary school teachers across the country also went on strike. Before the December strike Minister Slob already clearly stated that there is no extra money available. "That is because I expressed my commitment to amounts that are in the coalition agreement", he said late in November. According to the Minister, the teachers are already receiving a substantial amount, while other sectors get nothing at all. More strikes do not change that, he said then.

Most schools in the northern provinces are participating in the strike, but a few are still open today. Such as the Dr. Algra school in Leeuwarden. "We recently had to send students home three times, because we have a teacher shortage. If we close another day, we will not get through our lessons", the school director said to NOS. Die Wierde in Adorp is giving kids an alternative curriculum today, with a reading marathon and games. The previous two strikes did not yield the desired results, De Wierde's director said to the broadcaster.