Statistics from the OECD on teachers’ salaries are showing interesting details about the salary differences between primary school teachers and teachers in (upper) secondary. (https://data.oecd.org/eduresource/teachers-salaries.htm#indicator-chart). The OECD compared these salaries in 2015 (in US dollars!!) all over the world. For me this was interesting for the European Union, especially. as the Dutch teachers’ unions said that primary school teachers are really paid far too little compared to their colleagues in secondary education. Well, their views are supported by the OECD results.

“Teachers’ salaries are the average gross salaries of educational personnel according to official pay scales, before the deduction of taxes, including the employee’s contributions for retirement or health care plans, and other contributions or premiums for social insurance or other purposes, but less the employer’s contribution to social security and pension. Salaries are shown in USD covering primary and secondary teachers with minimum qualification at the beginning of their career, after 10 and 15 years, and at the top of the scale. Trends in salaries are shown as an index with base year 2005. “
OECD (2017), Teachers’ salaries (indicator). doi: 10.1787/f689fb91-en (Accessed on 22 October 2017)

Some 8 countries have the same or almost the same wages in 2015 for primary and for secondary education (Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, Latvia, 

Lithuania, Poland, Portugal Slovenia, Slovak Republic). Two countries are exceptional when it comes to the biggest differences. It is Germany with a difference of some 10,000 USD between primary and secondary and The Netherlands as the country where the difference of 14,000 USD is the biggest. Reason for the Dutch primary school teachers to have a full day of strike and in November more is coming.

Is this the right way to make clear that your salary is too low? Isn’t it better e.g. to send petitions to the minister of education? Children had to miss a day of education! Schools were closed! Parents had to stay home, asking for a day’s leave to take care of their children. 

They could not go to their work.  It is only the happy few who can work at home. There were teachers who in principle don’t strike, and decided to do some social work in an elderly home. Others decided to make extra lessons to support children who have difficulties at school. And in the meantime, tens of thousands were demonstrating. In the past, I would have disagreed with those demonstrators. Nowadays I have changed my mind and would go fully for their demands.

What alternative course of action could teachers have taken? Should they have been quiet and got on with their work ‘for the sake of the kids’? Should the unions be even more vocal and confrontational?
What do you think?

Gerard