The council of the Estonian Education Personnel Union (EHL) decided at its sitting Tuesday to take further steps toward a teachers' strike to achieve better salaries and to turn to the public conciliator.
The union said in a press release that EHL requested a pay rise of 11 percent for teachers in 2024, the education minister asked the government for a hike of 8 percent, while state budget negotiations only ended up with 1.77 percent, which would add just €31 a month to the gross salary of teachers.
This is obviously not a satisfactory outcome for teachers, especially considering average salary advance (around 6 percent for next year) and inflation. The minimum salary coefficient also concerns salaries of preschool educators, which is why EHL is set to meet with relevant unions Wednesday.
EHL is set to meet with Public Conciliator Meelis Virkebau on Wednesday who will then have five days to convene a meeting of the sides.
EHL chair Reemo Voltri said he hopes the government will consider teachers' wishes and agree to the proposed pay rise. "If not, we have no choice but to go on strike," Voltri said. EHL hopes the government will come to realize the seriousness of the problem before the strike as teachers lay the foundation for Estonia's success. Worthy pay and motivating working conditions for teachers are key on the road to ensuring national success, the press release reads.
The union also points out that a Norstat poll found that 63 percent of respondents supported a possible teachers' strike, while 92 percent said teachers should be paid the same or more than other specialists with higher education.
The Estonian Education Personnel Union is the country's largest organization representing teachers and other education professionals.
Editor: Mait Ots, Marcus Turovski