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Minister: Conciliator's pay offer requires more money that is not there

Kristina Kallas.
Kristina Kallas. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Last week, the Estonian Public Conciliator proposed raising the minimum pay rate by 4.3 percent for qualified teachers and 1.77 percent for unqualified teachers. According to Minister of Education and Research Kristina Kallas (Eesti 200), a different increase in the minimum wage for teachers in the new year is not possible.

Kallas explained that the public conciliator's proposal would require an amendment to the Estonian Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act, which is no longer possible this year. "Introducing a different minimum rate for teachers would also mean an additional €12 million, which the large state budget deficit will not allow for next year," the minister said.

The public conciliator also suggested negotiations should be held between the ministry, the Estonian Education Personnel Union (EHL), local government associations and private school owners, with joint working groups established to find solutions. This proposal was accepted by Kallas.

"We have met with representatives of the teachers' union and the union of local authorities, and we are all ready to sit down at the negotiating table and start consultations on a longer-term education agreement. We need to reach agreement on three issues in relation to teachers' development and salary support: an increase in salary support for local authorities up until 2027, the reorganization of the school network and an agreement on a career and salary model for teachers. These changes can only be made jointly with the involvement of all parties," said Kallas.

The minister will soon begin negotiations and wants to reach an agreement with local authorities, private school representatives and the teachers' union on a longer-term plan for teacher pay rises for 2025-2027. The negotiations will therefore need to focus on these issues.

By the beginning of 2024, the ministry is set to develop a career model for teachers, incorporating a calculation of both workloads and salary scales.

An agreement also has to be reached with the municipalities regarding a reform of the school network, which involves retaining six-grade schools closer to pupils' homes and transferring responsibility for the organization of upper secondary education to the state.

Currently, the estimated average salary received by Estonia's teachers is 112 percent of the national average, with a target of increasing this to 120 percent by 2027. Kallas wants a mandate from the government to begin negotiations, with the aim of finding the finances to increase teachers' salaries in the future.

The Ministry of Education and Research sent its response to the public conciliator last Wednesday. It is now possible for the conciliator to return with another proposal. However, if the public conciliator considers the process to be over, a protocol of disagreement will need to be signed.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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