On 15 May, 4,000 Dutch vocational education and training (VET) teachers and support personnel came to the capital city, Amsterdam, to participate in a strike for quality vocational education. Their action followed employers’ refusal to agree on an enhanced collective agreement taking into account teachers’ workload.
EI’s affiliates, the Algemene Onderwijsbond (Aob) and the CNV Onderwijs (CNV-O), as well as Abvakabo FNV and FVOV had called for this first nationwide strike after four regional actions.
Teachers in vocational education experience bigger class sizes, more courses to teach, more tasks to perform, the unions said.
Educators say they cannot find enough time to support their students the way they want nor offer them the quality they would like to put into their lessons. As in other education sectors, salaries in the VET sector have not seen any increase for five years.
Student organisations sent messages of solidarity to the striking educators. “Nothing is as frustrating as not having enough time to do your job well,” said AOb Chairman Walter Dresscher.
A participant commented: “With any luck, I have a six-minute preparation time for lessons of one-and-a-half hours. That’s crazy.”
EI: Dialogue necessary
EI has also voiced it support for Dutch colleagues. “To have quality teachers, one must provide them with decent work and living conditions,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen. “Public authorities must engage in immediate negotiations in good faith with organisations representing education personnel so as to sign a good collective agreement.”
Unite for Quality Education is a campaign of Education International (EI), the voice of teachers and other education employees across the globe. Join the 30 million members EI represents (through its 400 affiliated organisations in more than 170 countries and territories) to demand that quality education for all remains at the top of the agenda for a sustainable, peaceful and prosperous future.