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Teachers in Estonia may strike over smaller than promised wage hikes

Madis Somelar.
Madis Somelar. Source: ERR

Educators in Estonia may opt to strike in response to much smaller wage hikes than the government had promised, teachers' union network coordinator Madis Somelar said in an appearance on ETV morning program "Terevisioon" on Friday.

"Maybe we should just give up the 1.7 percent [included in the state budget bill], since it feels like a mockery, but society is getting the message that teachers are the only ones whose wages will be rising," Somelar said.

Politicians have made very specific promises, he continued. The coalition agreement called for teachers' wages being raised to 120 percent of Estonia's average wage.

"Part of the Reform Party doesn't consider education an investment; we're like some sort of expense item," he commented. "The idealistic notion that this situation can be changed has been shattered."

Estonian Educational Personnel Union (EHL) chair Reemo Voltri was scheduled to meet Friday with Minister of Education and Research Kristina Kallas (Eesti 200), who has expressed her willingness to nonetheless find additional money from the ministry's resources to increase teachers' wage hike. The EHL will decide its next steps following the meeting.

Kallas herself said in an interview with ERR that the teachers' wage hike is insufficient.

The Estonian government announced this week that it would be freezing the public sector payroll, and that only teachers would be getting raises as their minimum wage is increased 1.7 percent. Kallas has previously proposed raising the minimum wage for teachers by 8 percent.

Teachers' wages currently equal 111 percent of the Estonian average monthly wage. This will decrease a ratio to the Estonian average next year, however, as the planned wage hike isn't as big as the increase in Estonia's average wage will be.

A teacher working full time in Estonia currently earns a gross minimum wage of €1,749 a month, or around €1,400 after taxes.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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