19,000 German daycare workers go on strike

19,000 German daycare workers go on strike
Photo. DPA
Several thousand parents were left without childcare on Wednesday as an estimated 19,000 teachers and social workers went on strike across Germany.

The country’s North Rhine-Westphalia region was most heavily affected, with almost all public kindergartens remaining closed in Dortmund.

Trade unions Verdi and the GEW said they called the strikes in order to put pressure on municipalities to improve health protection for some 220,000 teachers and social workers across the country.

According to union figures, only 58 percent of social workers and 26 percent of educators see themselves reaching retirement in good health under the current working conditions.

“Employers are making no effort to approach us on the issue,” said Achim Meerkamp from Verdi’s national board.

The German Association of Municipal Employers (VKA) called the demands for better health care out of line with the current payment system and available funds.

The current labour agreement remains valid until 2011, according to VKA managing director Manfred Hoffmann, who also accused the unions of irresponsibility: “The strikes are unnecessary, as they affect children and their parents and don’t bring us any further on the matter.”

Verdi described negotiations from April 30 as unsuccessful. A vote will take place Thursday to determine whether union members will strike for an indefinite period of time. The result will be made known on May 14.

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