On March 15, tens of thousands of educators marched in Hague and throughout the Netherlands, as part of a national strike, demanding government action to improve the conditions in schools. They also protested low wages and a high workload as a result of years of austerity. The strike was called by the General Educatio n Union (Aob) and the trade union FNV Onderwijs en Onderzoek, and supported by action groups such as PO in Actie, VO in Actie, and FVoV.
More than 100,000 primary school educators joined the nation-wide strike, resulting in the closure of around 2,600 schools across the country. World Socialist Web Site reported that around 40,000 teachers and support staff marched in Hague alone.
The teachers demanded that the government increase spending on education by four billion euros, out of which three billion should exclusively be for primary and secondary education.
FNV director Jan Boersma said, “First of all, we are going to vote in the regional elections this month, and then we also call on employers to use their influence. If no additional investments are made, we will continue with actions, from primary education to universities. The workload must be reduced and education must again become an attractive sector to work in.”
Brenda Benne-Saleh, spokesperson for PO in Actie, said, “Wages are particularly a problem in primary education. In the banking sector, you can say that you want to earn more, but in education, that is not allowed because you are supposed to have a passion for your profession. Yet research shows that people, especially men, do indeed leave education because of the salary. Then, you get a shortage and a high workload.”
DutcNews.nl said that teachers have been campaigning for change since 2017, with primary school teachers at the forefront of the movement. The strike of March 15 was significant as it involved educators from various levels. Across the world, educators have been organizing strikes and protests against low wages, big classrooms, understaffing and disinvestment and privatization of education.