The board of the nation's Education Personnel Union decided on December 14 to begin preparations for a strike after hearing from lawmakers that no salary increase was in the offing.
"Today we received a letter from the chairman of the Parliament's Finance Committee Sven Sester saying that there is no possibility [of a pay increase], that it will only come with the reorganization of the education system," the head of the union Sven Rondik told Postimees. "That's the same as nothing, because [reorganization] is a matter for the distant future."
The strike may come as soon as late January or early February, said Rondik. The first steps in the process would be to apply to the State Conciliator's office for the right to strike, then poll union members to see how many would take part. Support from other unions would also be sought, he said.
In late October teachers held a demonstration in front of the Parliament building where they demanded a 20 percent pay rise.
According to Rondik, the idea of a salary increase for teachers has the support of the public, but not of the government. "Recently it was said that salaries for soldiers would have to be raised, but soldiers get 630 euros [per month] and teachers get 608. An ordinary private gets more than a teacher who has a master's degree," he said.