GEW: “A disappointing judgement - develop civil service law democratically” Education trade union on the judgement of the ECtHR on the right to strike for civil service teachers


The German Education Union (GEW) is disappointed by the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on the right to strike for civil service teachers. “These exhausts the legal process. The judgement emphasises the importance of the right to strike as part of freedom of association and trade union involvement, but it provides an exception for civil service teachers in Germany. GEW accepts the judgement of the Strasbourg judges, although they would have liked to have seen a different decision - and had expected a different decision based on the previous case law of the ECtHR,” GEW President Maike Finnern stated on Thursday during a press conference in Berlin. The ECtHR had ruled that the ban on strikes for civil service teachers in Germany was ultimately incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Susan Flocken, the ETUCE European Director, commented: “The recent judgment by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) imposing limitations on the right to strike for teachers in Germany raises serious concerns about the actual application of such right. The verdict not only impacts the immediate interests of  teachers in Germany but also sets a precedent that could influence the stance on labour rights across the continent. ETUCE is troubled by the apparent restriction of the right to strike, a fundamental tool for workers to voice their concerns and negotiate fair working conditions. This shift in the legal landscape is prompting a critical examination of the balance between the right to strike and the responsibilities of civil service teachers. ETUCE closely observes these developments and continues its action to safeguard and advance the rights of workers, fostering a collaborative dialogue between unions, employers, and governments” 

“The judgement and the minority vote provide guidance for the further development of civil service law in Germany. The judges emphasise the importance of participation rights as compensation for the lack of the right to strike. This is where we need to begin and strengthen these rights,” emphasised Finnern. “The reasoning of the ECtHR judgement also contains a request to the federal and state governments to sit down at the table with the public sector trade unions and discuss a democratic further development of a modern civil service law in Germany. To this day, civil servants are dependent on the goodwill of their employers: The employer dictates how long they work, decides on their income, on increases and decreases in pay, and on working conditions. There is a lot to do.”