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  • Writer's pictureIsabel Langa

Vienna's kindergartens go on strike!

Last Tuesday, 24 October 2023, both private and municipal kindergartens in Vienna went on strike. The reason was clear: there are fewer and fewer professionals willing to work in pre-school education, conditions are far from ideal and financial support for pre-school groups remains frozen in the face of rising inflation.

Here is a summary of the reasons why La Rueda attended the demonstration and the outcome of the event.

What do the caregivers and pedagogues of the municipal kindergartens want to achieve?

👉 More money, more training, more staff and smaller groups.

"According to the Younion trade union, there is a shortage of 600 teachers in the municipal kindergartens alone. There is a shortage of 1,200 primary school teachers in all Viennese schools.

In addition to more staff, the union is calling for education and further training programmes throughout Austria, supervision during working hours and better working conditions. A unified federal framework law should bring the same standards from Burgenland to Vorarlberg, for example for the groups, which are currently of different sizes". - Der Standard

The quality of early childhood education suffers. There is a shortage of caregivers, making it an impossible task to cover for absences. Faced with this shortage, kindergartens are calling for free training and incentives for more young people to choose this career path.

As for working conditions, employees in many kindergartens in Vienna complain that they can only "survive" on a day-to-day basis, neglecting the valuable activities that could be carried out if they had smaller groups and more preparation time.

Why does La Rueda participate as a private kindergarten?

La Rueda actively participated in the demonstration. But what were our motives?

We are a private children's group and we take care of small groups with two or more caregivers. This means that our care ratio is much higher than average.

However, financial support from the City of Vienna could be used to improve the pedagogical quality by providing more hours of preparation, reflection and supervision, for example. Our association is non-profit, so our focus is always on the child. We would love to continue to open children's groups and even a school in the future, but we want to do so while maintaining our quality standards.

Another big financial and organisational problem is the following: the salaries of the pedagogical team increase every two years, but the funding has not yet increased substantially. In other words, it is becoming more and more expensive to maintain the kindergarten and the support from the City of Vienna remains the same. At some point, the quality will be compromised😔.

What did our volunteers learn from this experience?

Trainees and volunteers from La Rueda were invited to the demonstration. Although many of them are not fluent enough in German, they enjoyed the atmosphere and learnt quite a lot:

"On 24 October, a demonstration was held in Sigmund Freud Park in Vienna. It was in favour of all pedagogues, because they demand more workers per child, smaller groups with more teachers, a higher salary, more rights, more preparation time, follow-up and paid reflection time.

From our point of view, and although there were language barriers, we can see a very united population trying to achieve what they wanted. The children were taught the importance of working as a team and to know all the benefits of the protest we are talking about" - Maria Catala and Martina Boadas.

"Personally I really enjoyed being present because I felt part of a collective and being able to defend part of the profession. The demonstration was calm but there were a lot of people demonstrating. To be honest, we didn't understand much of what was said in the speech, but they gave us a brief explanation and we agreed." - Louiza Azzouz and Layla Bouakka.

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