Berlin teachers go on warning strike for smaller classes

Wed 29th Jun, 2022

Photo by Mika BaumeisterAt many Berlin schools, the usual classes will be canceled on Wednesday. Just under a week before the start of the summer vacations, the Education and Science Union (GEW) has once again called for an all-day warning strike. It has been demanding smaller classes for a long time in order to relieve teachers.

To this end, a collective agreement on health protection is to be concluded, which will regulate the class size in a binding manner. The GEW wants to limit them to 19 students. Up to now, up to 26 children have been allowed.To put pressure on their demands, there is to be a demonstration (starting at 10 a.m.) that will start at Dorothea-Schlegel-Platz near the Friedrichstrasse S-Bahn station. It will lead to the Rotes Rathaus, where the final rally is planned around 12 noon.

The GEW Berlin has already spoken out in June last year for negotiations for a collective agreement health protection. But also the new finance senator Daniel Wesener (Greens) refuses to take up discussions to it, criticized the Berlin GEW chairman Tom Erdmann.Therefore it is necessary to increase the pressure on the employer. Erdmann pointed out that all three governing parties had called for smaller classes during the election campaign.

Reduction of workload through smaller classes

Wesener takes the view that the state of Berlin cannot enter into collective bargaining on the size of classes without the approval of the collective bargaining community of German states (TdL). However, the TdL general meeting rejects such collective bargaining. He made his position clear again in a letter to the union on the occasion of the warning strike.

According to the GEW, a survey of salaried teachers at Berlin schools has shown that class size is the most effective factor in reducing workload. It means less noise, less preparation and follow-up work, and less correction work. In smaller classes, there is correspondingly more time for the core tasks of teachers: teaching, relationship work and individualized support.

However, the need for teachers would increase as a result of smaller classes - and is already high in Berlin. Even the education administration has already admitted that there is a shortage of hundreds of teachers. "Better working conditions are the best remedy for a shortage of skilled workers," argued GEW board member Anne Albers.

The last warning strike for smaller classes was on April 7 this year. At that time, there had been sharp criticism, among others, from school administrators and the state student committee, because presentation exams for the Abitur were held at some schools on that day.

Today, June 29, there are at least no exams scheduled. In one week, the summer vacations will begin, and at the schools all grade-related work has already been completed. Mostly, however, there are more excursions, project weeks or other social activities during this time.

In Berlin, unlike in other federal states, almost 70 percent of the 34,000 teachers are salaried employees and not civil servants and are therefore allowed to strike. Berlin is the only federal state in which teachers are not yet civil servants. However, the Red-Green-Red Senate now wants to change that. The return to civil service has already been decided.

Photo by Mika Baumeister


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