Reemo Voltri, head of the Estonian Education Personnel Union, representing teachers in their ongoing salary dispute, is set to meet with Prime Minister Kaja Kallas Tuesday to try and resolve the impasse that is leading to a teachers' strike in Estonia.
"The meeting is part of negotiations between teachers and the government to try and solve the problem of teachers quitting, their excessive workload and young people steering clear of the teaching profession because of low salaries," the teachers' union said.
Voltri said it is unfortunate that hiking teachers' salaries, which the ruling parties supported during election debates, has now culminated in a teachers' warning strike (to go ahead this Friday – ed.).
"The spring coalition agreement meets teachers' expectations and addresses the problem of competitive salaries. However, soon after, the government started hinting at the need to break the agreement, unto freezing salaries for years to come. This has led most teachers to see a strike as the only option," Voltri elaborated. "That said, we still hope to reach a sensible compromise. It is a matter of government priorities."
Educators have made the following proposals for negotiation:
- Hiking the minimum salary of teachers by at least 8 percent by 2024.
- A collective agreement for the next four years to guarantee an annual minimum salary hike.
- Keeping preschool teachers' salaries tied to the minimum salary of teachers and providing local governments with additional funding for this purpose.
The next meeting between the Ministry of Education and Research, Estonian Education Personnel Union (EHL) and the Association of Estonian Cities and Rural Municipalities, mediated by the public conciliator, will take place on in Tartu this Friday.
The EHL is the largest teachers' and other education professionals' union in Estonia, it mediates agreements between education institutions and local governments, also in matters of salaries and working conditions. The union also represents teachers in salary negotiations with the government.
Editor: Marcus Turovski