German Child Care Workers’ Strike Brings Debate on Priorities

June 10, 2015 / Phil Lesch

New York Times
June 5th, 2015

HAMBURG, Germany — At 8:05 a.m. at a day care center in northern Hamburg, Alexandra Kölling’s 4-year-old son clung to her leg, crying. A breakfast of bread, butter, cheese, ham and milk waited, but no teachers came to coax Mika gently away from his mother and over to his place at the low table.

On that day, Ms. Kölling was the caregiver at the Wernigeroder Wegcenter. A full-time software developer, she was taking her turn with several other parents to try to restore a semblance of the normalcy that has eluded her family and countless others across the country since May 8, when thousands of preschool teachers and assistants walked off the job.

“I’ve had it up to here,” said Ms. Kölling, 37, impatience rising in her voice as she balanced her 15-month-old on her hip while trying to comfort her older son. “I haven’t been able to work properly a single day.”

The strike by child care workers is the latest in a series of work actions that is putting Germany on track to have the most days lost to labor action in nearly a decade.

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