Over 4,000 schools closed as teachers strike

Primary school classroom
Primary school classroom Photo: DGLimages/DepositPhotos

More than 4 thousand schools in the Netherlands are closed today due to a large strike in primary- and secondary education. Teachers, school directors and other educational staff are striking for a structural solution against the teacher shortage in the country. The education unions consider the government's promise of a 460 million euros once-off investment insufficient to tackle this shortage.

Unlike the previous teacher strike in March, the teachers will not gather for a massive demonstration on Malieveld in The Hague. Instead, there are multiple actions organized throughout the country. Education union AOb expects most protesting teachers to gather on Dam Square in Amsterdam and in Leeuwarden, according to NU.nl In Almere, Enschede, Zwolle and Arnhem, there will be mobile podiums "where teachers can talk to each other about the problems they face", AOb said. And in Rotterdam there will be a march. 

Other schools arranged fun actions themselves for during the strike. In Utrecht teachers organized a 'freeze' - they will "stand just as still as the education" on the square on the Jaarbeurs side of Utrecht Centraal. Teachers at a school in Alblasserdam will bake pancakes for the residents of a nearby nursing home. 

The strike is happening on the same day as the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, is debating the education budget. The trade unions demand that the government come up with a good investment plan for the coming years. Four out of ten schools already suffer from a structural teacher shortage and neglecting education means neglecting the future, they argue. 

At the end of last week there was some uncertainty regarding the teacher strike. On Friday evening the unions announced that the strike was canceled, because the government committed 460 million euros to education. But this led to much dissatisfaction among teachers. Many union members were critical of the agreement, because it was not first presented to them and because the promised amount is a once-off lump-sum, not a structural investment. After a crisis meeting on Sunday, the unions decided to continue the strike. And the chairman of the AOb, the largest education union in the Netherlands, resigned. 

Not sure what to do with your kids on this extra free day? A number of zoos, museums and amusement parks are offering free or discounted entrance for children during the strike