About 90,000 elementary teachers have gone on strike in the Netherlands, demanding better working conditions and higher wages to match their high school counterparts.
Striking teachers want the Dutch government to invest an immediate US$1.65 billion toward their salaries to match secondary school wages, which are approximately 20 percent more per month.
“Our salaries have barely grown in the past 10 years, while the work only got harder … Something must be done now, to make our jobs more attractive and to prevent a major shortage of teachers in the years to come," Bart Audenaerd told Reuters.
The teachers charge that their wages aren’t keeping pace with the country’s decade-high growth rate of 3.3 percent, where wages in all sectors are growing at only 1.6 percent.
This is the first time since the 1980s that Dutch elementary school teachers have gone on strike, but it’s a move that other sectors, such as construction and technology workers, are contemplating.
Last month, the Trade Union Confederation said it will demand a 3.5 percent wage increase during its upcoming 2018 negotiations.
Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem has offered an additional US$938 million in wages to elementary school teachers, but strike organizers have said this is not enough, adding if their original demands aren't met, they will conduct another strike "for two days in November."