Early years teachers and education workers in Germany have overwhelmingly rejected an arbitration deal which would have given them an average pay increase of 3.4% weighted towards management, with some non-management posts getting as little as 1%. The arbitration process was an attempt to bring an end to a determined strike, which started in April.

One of the most important aims of the strike was to get parity of esteem for early years education. As we at the outset of the action, in many countries, nursery teachers. whose jobs are some of the most skilled in education, are on considerably lower pay than their colleagues teaching older children. Moreover, teachers say that more and more is being demanded of them, and there has been no corresponding increase in pay.

The strikes achieved widespread support from members of both the unions involved, ver.di and GEW, and were carried out all over the country. Importantly they also received considerable support from parents who organised an online petition, which attracted over 50,000 signatures. The preamble to the petition states: 'We parents are in solidarity with educators because we are partners in the raising of our children. What an achievement for two people to look after 20 to 25 children. To love every single child, to comfort them, to encourage and support them and be empathetic, patient and kind. And doing all that while keeping to the early years education plans with all the assocatied paperwork and regular meeting with parents.'

With the rejection of the arbitration deal and with the employers saying they cannot offer more, union leaders predict that there will be more strikes in kindergartens once the new school year has started in every state in Germany, in the middle of September.