Teachers in Berlin, the capital of Germany, are continuing their struggle for fair pay and decent working conditions. 2000 teachers were on strike on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, forcing the closure of 355 schools. Teachers demonstrated in front of the headquarters of the two main political parties in Germany, the Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Social Democrats (SPD).

One of the main demands of the teachers is that they should all be 'Beamte' - civil servants, rather than 'Angestellte' - who have fewer employment rights and less pay. Unlike the other German states, Berlin dropped the designation 'civil servant' for new teachers in 2004, meaning that about a third of the city's teachers are on lower pay than their colleagues. Another demand is against a lengthening of hours for teachers, which leaders estmitate could mean teachers - both Beamte and Angestellte - working an extra eight days a year. And lastly the teachers are demanding better conditions for older teachers and those who are sick, many of whom are forced into early retirement when what is required is an improvement in working conditions, such as sound proofing in classrooms.

Teachers say that the unfair pay system in Berlin is causing a shortage of teachers in the city and emphasise that their working conditions are children's learning conditions. The teachers were on strike before the summer holidays and four times before that this year. Leaders of the German teachers' union, GEW, say they are planning more strikes - probably before the autumn holidays.