Tartu cultural workers present 'Christmas tree of shame' at salary protest

Tartu cultural workers and their supporters gathered in Town Hall Square (Raekoja Plats) on Monday to protest against the local government's failure to bring their salaries in line with the national minimum. The demonstration culminated in the protestors presenting a symbolic "Christmas tree of shame" to the local government.

At 4 p.m. on Monday, a group of protestors gathered by the red "#Tartu2024" sign in Tartu's Town Hall Square (Raekoja Plats) to demonstrate against the disparity in wages between cultural workers in city-owned institutions and those of their state-run counterparts.

Leading the protests was Ants Siim, staff trustee at the Tartu City Museum. Last week, Siim told ERR News about the plans to create a "Christmas tree of shame" (Häbikuusk), which was duly unveiled and symbolically presented to the local government at the demonstration.

The cardboard tree, which was deliberately designed to be shabby-looking, was covered in messages in support of the strike. It was also accompanied by a sign explaining the historical significance of both the tree itself, and the decision to place it in Tartu's central square. "In medieval times, this was the post of shame, in the middle of the city," Siim explained to ERR News last week.

Among those gathered was Liisi-Reet Reinet, communications specialist at the Tartu City Museum. Reinet told ERR News, that it was the first time she had attended a protest like this, and that she really hoped it would help to achieve the cultural workers' aims. Reinet added, that she had particularly enjoyed the way humor was used by the protestors to make their point.

After the protest, Siim said, he was happy with the way things had gone, and hoped that the local government would start to get the message.

In addition to Ants Siim, among those speaking at the protest, which lasted a little under two hours, were director of the University of Tartu Library Krista Aru, Eesti 200 council group leader Kristina Kallas and trade union representative of the Oskar Luts City Library, Ädu Neemre.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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