Education International
Education International

Germany: Teacher unionists on a warning strike over working conditions

published 26 November 2012 updated 29 November 2012

The Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft (GEW), one of EI’s national affiliates, was involved in a strike action in the state of Saxony. More than 10,000 teachers participated in the action, demanding more teacher jobs, better wages, and legislation regulating pre-pension.

Massive teacher action

The action was undertaken in the Dresden region, as well as in Chemnitz, Leipzig, Bautzen und Zwickau. Saxony’s teachers joined the action en masse and were supported by the local Socialist Party‘s section. GEW State President, Sabine Gerold, indicated that around 10,500 education professionals in the Leipzig, Bautzen, Zwickau und Plauen regions did not report for work on 16 November. GEW noted that no class was held in more than more than three quarters of schools in these regions, and reminded that it was the second teacher strike action during this school year. As the State Parliament will decide upon the biennial budget in December, allocating finance to education and cultural affairs, Gerold said she did not exclude calls for further strike actions before then.

Saxony‘s Minister for education and cultural affairs, Brunhild Kurth, reacted by dismissing the teachers’ demands and saying that teacher unions were exaggerating. Concerning the trade union demands on pre-pension, Kurth said that it would not solve the teacher shortage, as there were just not enough young qualified teachers. She alleged that teacher unions deliberately ignored the fact that the government had allocated a lot of money to improve education and meet the concerns of teachers. Kurth stressed that 9.1 million euros had been set aside to offer better pay to the 1,350 oldest primary teachers in 2013/14.

GEW: Important action, not to be overlooked by government

Today, teachers in Dresden are on average over 50 years old, one fourth are even over 60. “The state must hire 1,500 teachers per year, to make up for the number of teachers who leave the profession to retire,” noted Michael Woye, GEW Vice-President for the Dresden district. GEW also underlined that, in comparison with other German States, Saxony’s education personnel are paid the least. That’s why GEW are demanding federal legislation on teacher remuneration via negotiations leading to a collective agreement.

VBE: State to facilitate the generational change among teachers

“20,000 teachers have, during a three-day strike action, clearly expressed the view that they want to be involved in the generational change in schools,” said Jens Weichelt, VBE federal Vice-President and VBE State President in Saxony.

He added: “Saxony’s State Government can and must not ignore this signal. We expect adequate propositions during the negotiations with regards to address the demographic and pre-pension work time problems – an acknowledgement of the older generation’s work and incentives to recruit more young teachers.”

He also underlined the fact that three quarters of Saxony’s teachers participated over the three consecutive regional strike days in Saxony.

EI: States must guarantee quality training and working conditions for teachers

“EI fully supports the demands of its German affiliates,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen. “State and federal, governments must guarantee that young teachers receive high quality training and decent and attractive living and working conditions.” He also emphasised that governments must engage with teacher unions and respect their right to collective bargaining.