Teachers want another meeting with the prime minister to discuss salaries

Government press conference.
Government press conference. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Teachers want to meet the premier in the next few days as her recent reluctance to solve problems in the field is starting to impact the quality of education in Estonia, Madis Somelar, coordinator for the network of teachers' associations, said.

Somelar said Friday morning that the associations have asked the prime minister to join teachers in analyzing metrics such as how many teachers have been trained by Estonian universities over the last ten years, the qualification of people currently working in schools, the age and gender structure of people working as teachers, how much did teachers see in terms of real salary advance in 2022 and 2023, as well as the career models and salary level of teachers in the Baltic Sea region.

Kaja Sarapuu, chair of the Association of Estonian Language Teachers (EES), said in the address that teachers' workload has been growing from one year to the next.

"For example, teachers' workload has grown as a result of the arrival of Ukrainian refugees in Estonian schools, work on developing curricula, preparations for switching to teaching only in Estonian, inclusive education tasks, as well as expectations placed on class teachers," Sarapuu said, adding that, meanwhile, politicians have only become more dismissive of teachers' contribution.

"There is a line somewhere and it has been crossed this fall as it has become increasingly clear that the Reform Party is not willing to honor what the coalition agreement has to say about solving the main problem of teachers," Sarapuu said.

Government fails to reach agreement on teachers' wages

The government on Thursday failed to move closer to an agreement on raising the pay of teachers after a meeting that lasted for several hours. Minister of Education and Research Kristina Kallas (Eesti 200) said that the sides did not move closer to an accord.

"I will continue negotiating with schools and local governments. I have asked to meet their representatives on Monday to find ways to move forward. I will also be meeting with the public conciliator on Friday. It is the task of the education minister to solve crises in the field of education. We will be returning to this matter sooner or later. It has not been resolved," Kallas said Thursday evening.

Lauri Läänemets, head of the coalition Social Democratic Party (SDE), confirmed that no agreement to hike the salaries of teachers was reached, even though he believes it is necessary.

"The government's position today will not prevent teachers going on strike, while I believe we should make every effort to avoid it," Läänemets remarked.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said Thursday that all sides to the government agree that teachers deserve to be paid more, while this does not change the fact there is no money in the state budget to facilitate a salary hike.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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