Teachers in primary and secondary schools across the Netherlands will walk off the job on Thursday, October 5. Because of inflation, their unions are demanding a higher pay raise than what the government has offered them. The unions want teachers to receive at least a 12 percent pay rise, while the government has offered a maximum of 5 percent.
The protest will be organized by a collection of labor unions, including educators union AOb, CNV, FNV, the school leaders union AVS, and FvOV, an association of unions representing more specialized educators, such as teachers focused on mathematics or physical education.
“We see all around us that all kinds of sectors are closing much higher collective labor agreements. With the teacher shortages that exist, we are not going to accept that there will not be an inflation correction. We are told loudly, ‘No, nothing more will be added. Just accept the loss of purchasing power.’” said AOb board member Thijs Roovers. If their effective take-home pay is cut in this way, he wondered how it will be possible to keep teachers and school leaders to remain in their profession, or to get new, talented people willing to enter the field.
The unions also staged protests for wage increases in May. At that time, they threatened a strike at the end of the current school year or at the beginning of the new year. According to Roovers, the fact that the strike is now set for October 5 is a concession to children and teachers.
“We want the schools to start the year normally. The first weeks are super important; you are then making plans and rules with the children and you get to know each other. We don’t want them to suffer additionally from a strike. We are soft about that,” he said. However, there is a bigger, and more divisive issue, he continued. “Because the government continuously lets children down by not investing in education. Our profession is too important for that,” and it is worth the fight, he said.
The unions do not yet know exactly what the protest day will look like, and what teachers will do that day instead of standing in front of the class. It is not likely that they will hold a demonstration on the Malieveld in The Hague.
“A national rally is not going to have any effect. We have to be there where the problems affect people. In our own school or in our own neighborhood. Perhaps we will get parents and students involved. How do you do it as usefully and as powerfully as possible? We are still investigating that.”
Reporting by ANP