Minister of Culture Tõnis Lukas (Isamaa) and Estonian Employees' Unions' Confederation (TALO) management board chairman Ago Tuuling signed a salary agreement for cultural workers on Monday according to which the wage fund for people working at Ministry of Culture institutions is to increase by 2.5 percent.
The distribution of the wage fund will depend on the decisions of the governmental institutions, and the planned increase in the wage fund will apply to all employees of these institutions, according to a ministry press release.
"The expectations of cultural workers being paid from the Ministry of Culture budget have justifiably increased over the years — even among those workers whose salary exceeds the minimum wage," Lukas said. "We will leave the final decisions to the institutions and their leaders because we trust them."
According to the minister, Monday's agreement definitely signals the importance of the work and contributions of the people working in the cultural field to the development of the Estonian language and culture, which is the tenet that will ensure Estonia's survival.
The national wage agreement applies to all cultural workers receiving a salary from the Ministry of Culture budget, but is also recommended for all cultural institutions regardless of their administrative jurisdiction or form of ownership.
In 2020, the minimum salary for cultural workers receiving a salary from the Ministry of Culture budget is €1,300. The national minimum wage also forms the basis for determining the artist and writer salaries.
"Our negotiations continue to be based on the source document 'Culture 2020,' according to which the minimum wage of cultural workers should at least equal the projected average gross income," Tuuling explained. "Negotiations were somewhat more complicated this time, as the elections resulted in the reassessment of several objectives and the level of next year's agreement will be slightly lower than requested. Despite this, we appreciate the willingness and ability of the Ministry of Culture to achieve a fairly optimal result."
The concluded wage agreement covers those receiving a salary from state institutions, public institutions, foundations and county libraries. Cultural workers covered include those with higher educations, higher vocational qualifications or specific, specialized knowledge equivalent to the higher education requirement, of whom there are almost 4,000. The same amount of additional funds will be added to the wage fund for coaches, bringing the total amount to €2.3 million.
The Ministry of Culture's planned budget expenditures for 2020 total €254 million.
In addition to the wage increase for cultural workers, the ministry's most important objectives for next year include providing additional funding for Estonian language learning, continued investments in national cultural institutions, and support for sports during the upcoming Olympic year.
2020 will also be celebrated as the Year of Digital Culture under the ministry's leadership.
Editor: Aili Vahtla