Teachers reject conciliator's pay rise offer, strike likely this year

The warning strike at Kiili High School, Harju County.
The warning strike at Kiili High School, Harju County. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

A teachers' strike may well take place before the end of 2023, said the head of the Estonian Educational Personnel Union (EEPU) after a proposal of a 4.3 percent pay rise was rejected on Friday.

"At the moment, the council of the Estonian Educational Personnel Union has decided that it is not possible for us to accept this offer, because we do not see the long view in this government plan and it does not give us any certainty for the future. All the more so as teachers have received very strong support from society to continue to stand up for education in Estonia. We are standing up for all our shared future, so that Estonia will still be an educated country, which will ensure the success of the Estonian state in the future," Reemo Voltri told ERR on Friday.

He said teachers are waiting for the end of the conciliation process, expected to be Wednesday, and the union will start strike discussions the day after.

"The strike is really a means to enforce our wishes and we are really waiting for the end of the conciliation process, which will probably come on Wednesday at the latest, when the conciliator will then conclude this conciliation process. Then we can start to talk specifically about the dates and also the form of the strike in more detail. But if there are no developments in the meantime, then we will probably really have to go out on strike," he said.

Any strike must take place with two weeks' notice and will probably start before Christmas, Voltri said.

"If the conciliation process does not drag on any longer, if the conciliation process still ends on Wednesday without a compromise and there is no new conciliation meeting or proposal, then we will probably be able to decide again on Thursday. And we need to give two weeks' notice so we can talk about more specific dates," said Voltri.

State conciliator Meelis Virkebau sent a proposal to the Estonian Estonian Educational Personnel Union (EEPU) and the Ministry of Education and Research on Friday with a 4.3 percent pay rise for 2024. This would see salaries rise by €76.

The union initially requested an 11 percent increase. The government offered 1.77 percent.

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Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright

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