Teachers and support workers are engaged in a series of strikes in several German states, including Bavaria, Hamburg and Lower Saxony. Hundreds of kindergartens have been closed. The kindergarten workers' unions Ver.di and GEW were pinning their hopes on negotiations last Thursday, as they sought to put their members on a higher pay grade.

As 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 asay that more and more is being demanded of them, and there has been no corresponding increase in pay.

Rallies were held in many towns, including one of several hundred in Dusseldorf on Thursday where the talks were taking place. As a result of the failure of negotiations, unions have embarked on another series of strikes, with kindergartens closed in many towns, including the old and new capitals, Bonn and Berlin. Union leaders say that if the new talks, scheduled for Thurdsay 16th, are unsuccessful they will call an indefinite strike. Tomorrow (April 15th), the almost quarter of a million nursery workers will be called out on a national strike.The last time the nursery workers struck was in 2009, an action which lasted for 12 weeks.

Parents have expressed their support for the teachers. A spokeswoman for the Association of Working Mothers said: 'In the last few years, teachers have taken on more and more tasks in relation to early years education and have to satisfy increased demands and expectations.' The association advised parents to get together to arrange emergency childcare. 

Needless to say, the employers are pleading a lack of money, as the reason not to pay the teachers and support workers properly. Union leaders on the other hand say that the tax take is continuing to grow and is forecast to continue to do so over the next few years. Once again, public servants and services are expected to make sacrifices, to shore up economies against the crisis which is continuing to rage through the Eurozone.