Estonian Public Conciliator Meelis Virkebau had originally been scheduled to make a compromise proposal on Wednesday in order to resume salary negotiations between educational workers and the state. However, this has now been postponed to Friday due to a change of circumstances.
Virkebau told ERR that last Friday, when a conciliation meeting was held in Tartu, Minister of Education Kristina Kallas (Eesti 200), announced that she would ask the coalition council to support a long-term plan to raise teachers' salaries on Monday
"On that basis, I had been supposed to propose today that I would receive input from the results of the coalition council. However, it turned out that the coalition council was cancelled altogether on Monday, as the prime minister was travelling abroad," explained Virkebau.
"There is a cabinet meeting on Thursday and I know that the minister is expected to make the same proposal for an increase in teachers' salaries up to 2027. Based on the outcome of that, on Friday we will make our decision regarding how to proceed."
According to Virkebau, the decision will depend on whether the government gives the education minister the mandate to sign off on such a long-term plan.
"If we don't have this information, there is no point in making a proposal that is worth nothing. Our proposal has to be based on a government decision," he said.
The Estonian Educational Personnel Union (EHL) requested an 11 percent increase for teachers by 2024, but a rise of only 1.77 percent was found in the budget negotiations. This will add approximately €31 a month. The Minister of Education and Research initially suggested 8 percent.
The EHL turned to the public conciliator with the dispute on October 2.
After the public conciliator makes its proposal, all parties will have three days to decide how to move forward. If it is rejected. the EHL says teachers will begin preparing to strike.
In 2023, the minimum monthly salary for teachers is due to rise from €1,412 to €1,749, an increase of 23.9 percent. According to data provided by Statistics Estonia, the average salary in Estonia in March 2023 was €1,810.
Editor: Michael Cole