Dutch teachers, lecturers to hold first ever all-out strike in March
The looming walkout reflects growing frustration across the workforce in the Netherlands, with employees in many sectors feeling left behind by strong economic growth that has not been matched by wage increases.
"Basically every teacher, at every level, says the workload is too high," spokeswoman Simone van Geest of teachers union AOB said. "There is a huge shortage of teachers at both primary and secondary level and wages are simply too low."
The teachers are calling for an increase of 4 billion euros ($4.6 billion) to the government's annual 30-billion-euro education budget, with over half of the extra money going to primary and secondary schools.
For wage rises, the unions are seeking 1.1 billion euros this year, increasing to almost 2 billion in 2022.
In response, Michiel Hendrikx, spokesman for the Education Ministry in the centre-right governing coalition, said the education sector was "already the recipient of the largest part of this government's extra investments".
He declined specific comment on the strike warning.
In 2017, the Dutch government promised primary schools 700 million euros in extra funds through 2021, though teachers at the time already said they needed double that amount to cover wage increases and pay for extra classroom assistance.
Primary school teachers continued a series of smaller work stoppages last year, joined by university staff in September, who demand more than 1 billion euros in extra investment to improve their working conditions.
The Netherlands has been one of Europe's top economic performers, with growth hitting decade-highs of around 3 percent in the last two years, but real disposable incomes have hardly budged since the turn of the century. ($1 = 0.8728 euros) (Reporting by Bart Meijer Editing by Mark Heinrich)