Warning strikes are to take place all over Germany from Tuesday as a result of what the GEW union is calling provocation from the employers in the latest round of contract negotiations for teachers and other public servants. The sticking points include the failure to pay teachers from the old East Germany, and teachers with foreign qualifications, equally with their West German colleagues, pension cuts, and a refusal to negotiate on pay scales which are at present decided unilaterally by employers. The GEW also wants an end to the lower pay for primary and lower secondary teachers.

Owing to archaic and complex rules, German teachers are divided between so-called civil servants (Beamte) and employed teachers (Angestellte). Traditionally the Beamte have taught in the old grammar schools, while secondary modern and primary teachers have been Angestellte, who are less well paid. The quid pro quo is that Beamte have not been allowed to strike althouth that is being challenged in the courts by the GEW.

Underlying this struggle are the cuts which we reported last week in the case of Bremen, which are seeing education underfunded, teachers underpaid and not sufficient teachers employed.

The strikes will take place on a rolling programme, starting with Berlin on Tuesday, followed by in Nordrhein-Westfalen from Tuesday to Thursday, with different towns coming out on each day. Bremen and Niedersachsen will take strike action on Tuesday, when the strike will be spread over many parts of the country. Different areas will be called out on the following week. As well as teachers many education support staff will also be taking part in the action.