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Public conciliator ends negotiations over teachers' pay

On Wednesday, the Estonian Public Conciliator signed a protocol of disagreement, bringing an end to the conciliation procedure in the negotiations between the Estonian Education Personnel Union (EHL) and the Ministry of Education and Research regarding next year's minimum salary for teachers in general education schools.

The end of the conciliation procedure means the government can set the minimum wage for school teachers for the coming year at its own discretion. However, the Estonian Education Personnel Union (EHL) will also have the right to organize a strike in general education schools, in accordance with the conditions laid down in the Estonian Collective Labor Dispute Resolution Act.

At a meeting last Friday, the public conciliator recommended that the minimum monthly wage for staff in general education schools should be set at €1,824 next year. The Ministry of Education and Research proposed €1,803 and the EHL wanted no less than €1,836.

On Monday, the ministry said it would stand by the proposal it put forward at Friday's meeting. On Tuesday, the teachers' union responded, saying it rejected the offers from both the public conciliator and the ministry.

"Since the public conciliator has nowhere from which to take the additional millions in order to reach a compromise, all possibilities of providing a realistic solution to the labor dispute in the education sector have been exhausted," said Estonian Public Conciliator Meelis Virkebau.

Union leader Reemo Voltri said on Monday that as the government's proposed pay rise for next year was four times lower than teachers had asked for, a strike will happen, and it could take place as soon as early January. "On December 12, the EHL council will meet and then we will decide when the strike will take place," he said.

On Tuesday, Minister of Education and Research Kristina Kallas (Eesti 200) said on ETV show "Esimene stuudio" that the government would need to find another €10 million in order to give teachers the pay rise they want, and that a sum of that size could not be found anywhere quickly.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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