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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Union calls for warning strike on graduation day

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The Science and Education Union (GEW) is undaunted by the teacher shortage: it is calling for a drastic reduction in class sizes and is calling on employed teachers to go on a warning strike on April 7. However, oral presentation exams at the Abitur start on this day in many schools.

The GEW justifies its statement with the result of a survey among its members. According to the evaluation, large learning groups are mentioned first when it comes to health stressors, according to 90 percent of those surveyed. The factors that followed were understaffing, poor technical equipment, noise, inclusion and correction work, said Anne Albers, GEW chair for collective bargaining policy.

Therefore, the GEW fee commission had already increased the demand for smaller classes in June 2021. In concrete terms, depending on the type of school, this would mean there would be at least five fewer students per class.

Here are some examples of demands:

  • Primary school classes with 19 instead of 24 or more children, at hotspots only 17
  • In grade 7 no more than 21 instead of around 26 students
  • Years 8 to 13 up to 24 youth instead of up to 29 or even 32 in high schools
  • At the higher level, depending on the type of course and level, from 14 to 17 young people
  • 3.5 extra hours of extra support instead of 2.5 per student with special learning, behavior or language needs
  • In vocational schools, a maximum of 21 young people per class and only ten if they do not have an apprenticeship.
  • More school psychologists and social workers.

This would result in an additional need for thousands of teachers and a greater need for space, although both are in short supply in Berlin. The GEW wants to see the problem as a longer process. There was already a warning strike in October, but only limited to about 30 schools.

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The school management showed understanding for the lawsuit on Monday, but criticized the timing of the warning strike. “The call of the GEW for a day in which many schools take the presentation exams in the Abitur is not fair to the teachers. Colleagues are unnecessarily in a moral dilemma here,” replied Sven Zimmerschied from the Association of Secondary School Administration. It is not possible to postpone the exam date.

Arnd Niedermöller of the Association of Senior Directors of Studies also thinks it is “difficult to understand” why the GEW puts teachers in such “anguish of conscience”.

The Senate Finance Department noted that Berlin was pending approval of the collective agreement from the federal states, which rejected the request. The GEW criticized the fact that Finance Senator Daniel Wesener (Greens) has not yet responded to the GEW’s suggestion. There’s no answer. “We want the Senate to behave respectfully,” said GEW chief Tom Erdmann.

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