Minister of Education Kristina Kallas said that teachers have adjusted their minimum salary demand from €1,835 to €1,950 before the nationwide teachers' strike scheduled to take place in late January, Postimees reports. This would require an additional €46 million from the state budget.
"They now want €1,950 for an increase of over €100 compared to what they demanded to cancel the strike late last year," the minister told the Postimees newspaper. "They have changed their demand and meeting the latter would now require €46 million," Kallas added.
The minister said that the teachers wanted €1,835 or an extra €33 for every teacher during the last round of salary talks, which would have cost €10 million.
According to Kallas, the €46 million it would take to meet teachers' demands cannot be found in the state budget and that the ministry needs to meet with teachers' representatives again to discuss ways of preventing the strike from going ahead.
The Estonian Education Personnel Union is set to start a nationwide teachers' strike on January 22 with no end date set.
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. This offer was later revised to 3.1 percent.
Kallas told "Aktuaalne kaamera" news Monday evening that the minimum teaching salary is not the only point of contention and negotiations will also touch on teachers' workload and how to reorganize schools in Estonia. The minister remarked that the strike, which probably cannot be avoided at this point, will force pedagogues, the ministry and local governments to try and find a solution again.
Union: €1,950 was our initial demand
Head of information for the Estonian Education Personnel Union (EHL) Janno Isat told ERR Tuesday that a salary bump of 11 percent to €1,950 was their initial demand when talks with the Education Ministry started last year and that €1,835 Kristina Kallas mentioned was what EHL was willing to come down to.
Isat added that the point of talks is to negotiate and that any sum that falls between €1,835 and €1,950 coming from the government would be worth considering. Asked whether the government agreeing to a minimum salary of €1,835 would be enough to cancel the strike, the union representative said that would be up to the EHL council.
"But this would have to be accompanied by concrete promises in terms of its entry into force, why not retroactively, and whether collective agreement talks would follow. "For example, the education minister lacked authorization to even launch such talks the last time."
The article was updated to add a comment from the Estonian Education Personnel Union (EHL).
Editor: Mait Ots, Marcus Turovski