Teachers on strike for higher salaries and lighter workload

Primary school teachers in Groningen will join a national teachers’ strike on October 5 to push the government to increase salaries and decrease workload.

“It’s quite simple,” Joost Verweij told The Scoop, “we want higher salary, less work pressure.”

Verweij is a teacher at Saint Michael Primary School in Groningen, one of the schools in the city that will join the national strike.

The PO-front, a group of teachers’ unions organising the strike, has no confidence in the amount of money that the government has reserved for education.

“There has been an increase, but it’s not enough,” said Verweij.

According to Arianne Wijninga, director of the school, low salaries do not attract many people towards the profession and create a shortage of teachers.

“This strike may be a problem for the parents for one day, but it’s a bigger problem when a teacher is sick and I don’t have anybody who can take the classroom for two weeks,” she continued.

“Is it only money that improves education?” asked Jasper Boter, education spokesperson in Groningen for the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, the biggest party in the Dutch government.

A package deal, involving not only the request for higher salaries, but also propositions to increase education quality and teachers’ competencies, would be a better solution, Boter said.

According to him, the primary school teachers’ situation will surely be on the agenda of the next national government.

Teachers are confident that this strike will have a stronger impact than the one organised in June, when the schools were closed for an hour. In case this strike fails, Verweij doesn’t rule out the possibility of a week-long strike.

Teachers in Groningen will not join the national demonstration in The Hague, seat of the Dutch government, but they will organise a protest in the city.

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