Talks between Kiviõli High School teachers and Lüganuse municipal government are expected to begin in the first half of this week in order to stave off a teachers' strike scheduled to begin next Monday.
Teachers at Kiviõli High School are demanding the reinstatement of Heidi Uustalu as principal after she was unexpectedly fired in early December. The municipal government, however, finds that striking for this reason is unlawful, a point that municipal leaders stressed at a meeting with the teachers held prior to their December 17 warning strike already.
Estonian Education Personnel Union chairman Reemo Voltri, who is advising the Kiviõli teachers, nonetheless finds that a strike in support of their fired principal is permissible.
In addition to municipal leaders, nine parents of school students likewise condemn the teachers' plans to strike, and submitted a statement outlining this position to the municipal government. MP Katri Raik (SDE), who was elected to the Riigikogu this spring in Ida-Viru County and has previously served as deputy secretary general at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as school director, has likewise denounced the teachers' plans to strike.
"A teacher's job is to deal with students, and be in the classroom," Raik said. "Yes, this would draw attention, but if you can imagine striking every day — I don't find this right. But of course, it is the teacher's decision; they have the right to strike."
Representing the teachers at Kiviõli High School, Mariliis Randmer believes that teachers have the right to stand up for their principles.
"The public may not even know that being a teacher does't mean just teaching," Randmer said. "They also belong to a team, and a teacher has their own rights and obligations. The teaching profession is much broader and more diverse than simply teaching. Yes, that is our primary work, but we're also members of an organization here, and we have to lead this organization together."
Kiviõli High School teachers had proposed meeting on Monday, however Lüganuse municipal leaders proposed meeting on Tuesday or Wednesday instead. The exact time and place of their meeting this week should be determined sometime Monday.
Editor: Aili Vahtla