Over the past few months, many educators in Germany have been arguing with the government about their wages.
Due to the creation of higher responsibilities, such as the inclusion of children with disabilities, their work is becoming more difficult. In addition, many parents have higher expectations concerning the education of their children. They often expect the educators to take almost all the responsibility for the education of their children, so the parents are left with almost nothing they have to do at home. Many educators have the impression that parents expect starting from the kindergarten level an “all-rounded-hands-off-education-package”. As a result, they have to deal with a lot of pressure.
Furthermore, educators have to work very long and hard hours, therefore suffering from illness more often than usual. Some educators say that they often go to work while still being a bit sick because they do not want their colleagues to have to do all the work on their own.
As a result of all these malpractices, the educators are demanding for an increase of up to 20% more money. After many discussions and a few small-scale strikes, there were still no results. As a result, the trade unions let their members vote about the actions to follow and the majority of members voted for a longer strike.
Now, since the 8th of May, more than 240,000 educators are striking and they consider continuing the strike till mid-July or even longer.
Parents all over Germany are facing the problem of how to take care of their children while they still have to go to work. Some parents have the possibility to give their children to the grandparents during the day or to take them to work, but others must find other solutions. Many parents organize supervision of their children together with other parents from the neighborhood. In some cities, they are even allowed to use the rooms of the kindergarten buildings for that. Alternately, some cities offer temporary child-care, though their quality is not quite as good as usual. If none of these options are possible, parents have to stay at home which can often cause problems with their employers.
Some schools which also employ workers to care for the children in addition to the teachers have to deal with the problem even more so. The teachers have to work longer and do the tasks of child caretakers. Often, that is not possible, therefore creating the possibility of school ending earlier in the day, which is especially a problem in primary school where the students are too young to stay on their own during the time they would normally spend at school.
Overall, many parents are stressed because of the situation. Though they understand the problems of the educators and try to support them, many parents do not know how to deal with the situation anymore. They have begun protesting against the strike and have said that the situation is not viable anymore and that the wrong people suffer due to the strike. They demand that the government and the trade unions reach an agreement soon.
But it does not seem as if this will happen soon. During the last weeks, the educators protested several times and are willing to continue until the government decides to change their situation and fulfill at least parts of their demands.
One of the first results of the strike is that people all over Germany are now discussing the topic of fair payment of educators and their situation in general. Many people understand the demands of the educators and support them. However, the mood is changing now since the strike has already been ongoing for four weeks and there is no end in sight.
After many discussions without results, the trade unions and the government will met again last week to start new discussions. This leaves many people with a bit hope that the strike will be over soon.