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Union: Teachers' strike planned for January 22

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

The Estonian Educational Personnel Union (Eesti Haridustöötajate Liit) is planning to start striking on January 22 over teachers' minimum wage disputes with the government, chairman Reemo Voltri said on Tuesday. No end date was set.

"We have been forced by the ignorance and obtuseness of the government to launch an indefinite strike on January 22, involving teachers in general education schools, vocational schools, and kindergartens. In addition, teachers of recreational education who wish to join the strike will be able to do so," Voltri said at the press conference.

He said the union held out hope until the last moment that a solution could be found.

"Unfortunately, however, the government failed to set priorities. The fact that the €8 million found for the increase by the Minister of Education and Research did not find its way into the national budget was also very significant," said Voltri.

The chairman said the strike was delayed until January due to the conciliation process, which tried to find a compromise between the government and the union.

Reemo Voltri Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

He said discussions about the strike being illegal are intended to scare and discourage teachers from participating.

The 3.1 percent salary increase will not prevent action from being taken, Voltri said.

"Striking is voluntary. Whoever wants to strike must be able to strike. Threatening strikers, for example with the loss of their job, is illegal. At the same time, strikers must be able to work during the strike," said Voltri.

Voltri hoped the government would take the relevant steps to stop the strike from going ahead.

On Tuesday, the EHL met in Tallinn to confirm details for the strike.

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

Teachers requested an 11 percent pay rise in 2024. The Ministry of Education suggested a compromise of 8 percent but the coalition said funding can only stretch to 1.77 percent – €31 per month. This offer was later revised to 3.1 percent.

The minimum wage of a full-time Estonian teacher is €1,749 in 2023, the net salary is €1,400.

The Estonian Education Personnel Union is the country's largest organization representing teachers and other education professionals.

A warning strike was held last month. Voltri said 75 percent of all schools and kindergartens participated.

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Editor: Aleksander Krjukov, Helen Wright

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