During a meeting with the national conciliator (Riiklik lepitaja) on Friday, Tallink's management proposed to union leaders a seven-year salary agreement tied to inflation and average wage growth. Jüri Lember, the union's chair, said a salary settlement was possible, but Tallink's intention to amend the staffing contract that increases the workload of employees, was a major impediment.
According to the proposal negotiated by public conciliator Meelis Virkebau, Tallink will equate the 2023 wage increase with the inflation in the period 2020 - 2022.
"Statistics Estonia reports that the inflation has been 24.4 percent over this period, so perhaps this year's wage increase will bring it exactly in line. Hansaline (service staff - ed.) would see an average wage increase of 9.9 percent, while HT Laevateenindus (technical staff - ed.) would see a 12.5 percent increase. This brings us to zero because inflation has been 24.4 percent for the last three years and [then wages would have risen] by 24.4 percent," CEO of Tallink Group Paavo Nõgene explained. He emphasized that Tallink's wages have risen faster than the national average. During the same period, the average wage in Estonia increased by 19.3 percent, with an 8.5 percent increase in 2022.
The previous planned and bilaterally agreed upon wage increases were 7 percent and 10 percent, respectively, Tallink's CEO said.
Tallink, Nõgene said, is proposing a seven-year salary increase agreement based on the arithmetic average of the preceding year's consumer price index and the percentage change in Estonia's average wage.
The Estonian Seamen's Independent Union (EMSA), which organized a warning strike at Tallink on January 16, has previously said that it seeks a 17.5 percent average pay increase for service workers and a 22.5 percent average pay increase for technical staff.
Jüri Lember, the head of EMSA, told ERR on Friday that an agreement on wage increases may be close, but Tallink's ideas about the size of the workforce are still concerning.
"Regarding this year's salary increase, we believe that if we add a few more percentage points and agree on the underlying principles, we may reach a settlement," Lember said. "However, as far as the desire to change today's minimal composition, or the number of employees, in relation to the compensation increase is problematic, we are very skeptical about this suggestion," he continued.
"Our main concern on the ships is that many people are working to the limits of their physical and mental capacities, while the employer highlights a number of routes where the number of passengers has changed and where, due to changes in work organization, even fewer staff could be deployed," the EMSA director explained.
Next week, Tallink and the labor union meets without public conciliators in an attempt to strike a deal.
"Our negotiations will continue without a national mediator," Nõgene said, adding that he is hopeful to reach a final settlement with EMSA by February 10.
Editor: Kristina Kersa