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Voltri: PM lacks understanding of the seriousness of teachers' wage problem

Representatives of the Estonian Education Personnel Union meeting with PM Kaja Kallas to discuss teachers' wages.
Representatives of the Estonian Education Personnel Union meeting with PM Kaja Kallas to discuss teachers' wages. Source: Henri-Kristian Kirsip/Government Office

Reemo Voltri, representative of the Estonian Education Personnel Union (EHL), said after meeting with Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) on Tuesday that the government does not understand the extent of the problem of teachers' salaries and therefore does not want to solve it.

Voltri said he was told during his meeting with Kaja Kallas that there is no money for an additional teachers' wage hike and that teachers stand to gain 1.77 percent from next year as it is.

He said that he is glad the PM found time to meet with the union. "We described the situation, which is nothing short of a major crisis, and said that allowing the quality of teaching to fall will negatively impact the economy as whole."

"Unfortunately, we did not leave the meeting feeling hopeful. The government and the prime minister do not understand the seriousness of the problem of teachers' wages. Therefore, the government does not want to solve it."

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. "Perhaps the government will have deliberated and found the money by then. If not, Estonia will be short on new teachers," Voltri said.

Voltri said that while hiking the salary of teachers in the coming years has been discussed, a quick look at the state budget strategy reveals that nothing has been earmarked for the purpose.

ERR has contacted the Government Office for comment.

The Estonian Education Personnel Union said on November 3 that because the government is stalling salary negotiations and has not proposed a single plan for sticking to promises made, a nationwide teachers' warning strike will go ahead on Friday, November 10.

The union is looking for a hike of 8 percent of the minimum wage of teachers, a collective agreement for wage hikes over the next four years and keeping preschool teachers' salaried tied to the minimum wage.

Notice of at least two weeks needs to be given before a general strike.

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Editor: Mari Peegel, Marcus Turovski

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