Vienna kindergartens partially closed as staff protest work conditions

Tables and chairs in a closed kindergarten
Kindergartens were closed as staff protested for better working conditions and more assistants. Photo: Christof Stache/AFP
Some kindergartens in the Austrian capital were closed on Tuesday as staff took to the streets to demand better conditions and more staff.

Kindergarten staff in Vienna staged a protest in Votiv Park in the north of the city to demand better working conditions and more staff in childcare facilities.

The action will impact private kindergartens in the capital (excluding company kindergartens) and affected facilities will be closed between 6am and 12.30pm.

“The employees are angry because they have been ignored by the federal government for years,” said Manfred Obermüller, Chairman of Younion, a trade union representing professions including education staff, in a statement.

“We are continuing on the tried and tested route of reconciliation, and are negotiating persistently regarding kindergartens. I am very happy that our negotiation partners are taking employees’ problems very seriously. The federal government should see Vienna as an example,” he said.

A demonstration in Votiv Park began at 10am and further protests are planned for Thursday near the Ministry of Education on Vienna’s Minoritenplatz in the city centre.

Parents were notified about the strike in September and public kindergarten facilities remain open due to the legal obligation to operate.

Kindergartens in Vienna

Compared to other federal states in Austria, Vienna provides the largest range of childcare with the longest opening hours and fewest days of closures.

The City of Vienna is also planning to introduce 200 new language teachers in kindergartens to bring the total number to 500 by 2024.

Additionally, assistants in kindergartens will work 40 hours a week (up from 20) from September 2022.

This is to ensure kindergarten teachers have enough assistants throughout the working day.

What do the political parties say?

The Vienna branch of the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) said the goal is to have the “best education” for children in Vienna and called on the federal government to do the same.

The Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) in Vienna stated their “full support” of the action and Education Spokesman Harald Zierfuß said the concerns of kindergarten staff “must finally be taken seriously”.

The ÖVP is calling for reduced group sizes in kindergartens and financial equality between public and private facilities.

The Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) called for higher wages for kindergarten teachers to stop staff from moving out of Vienna.

The Vienna Greens also expressed support for the kindergarten staff “so that every child can receive the best education and support”.

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