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Union: Teacher strike coming, let's discuss when

Representatives of the teachers' union meet Prime Minister Kaja Kallas.
Representatives of the teachers' union meet Prime Minister Kaja Kallas. Source: Henri-Kristian Kirsip

Reemo Voltri, the leader of the teachers' union, told ERR on Friday morning that the union will announce the exact date and manner of the strike's start after it receives an official response from a national conciliator today, on Friday. The government failed to reach an agreement on Thursday.

"The union council meets in the evening," Reemo Voltri, the leader of the Estonian Education Personnel Union (EHL), said.

"The deadline for responding to the national conciliator's offer would be Monday, but if no compromise is reached the truce is broken and the right to strike is active. The start date of the strike will be determined during tonight's meeting."

Voltri said that the union's lawyers are going over the Collective Labor Dispute Resolution Act to make sure that the strike begins properly.

He said that  the issue at hand is how to organize the strike for a maximum impact.

"Should you strike before Christmas when schoolwork is not so intense?" Voltri said. "Or between January and February, or prior to the national examinations. We have to analyze that."

Voltri reiterated that the aim of the strike is to make the government change its mind about destroying Estonian education: "Government remains ignorant about the state of education in Estonia."

From a legal point of view, Voltri said, there are no agreements in force, which could prevent the strike from starting this year.

"When signing the coalition agreement, the government delivered a written statement, which they are not following through now," Voltri added.

"The situation is catastrophic; 150 teachers leave the profession every month," Voltri said. "The government thinks it's okay."

There is money to strike, the union leader added.

The Estonian Education Personnel Union (EHL) asked for an 11 percent increase in the minimum wage for teachers by 2024, the minister of education and research proposed an increase of 8 percent, but during the negotiations on the state budget, only a 1.77 percent increase in the minimum wage was agreed, which means a financial increase of €31 in gross salary.

Teachers earn 111 percent of Estonia's average earnings, but this number will decrease next year, as the planned pay increase will be minimal compared to the Estonian average increase.

In 2023, the minimum salary for a full-time teacher in Estonia will be €1,749 euros, with a net salary of €1,400.

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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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