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Over half of Hiiumaa schools to join teachers' strike

Classroom blackboard. Photo is illustrative.
Classroom blackboard. Photo is illustrative. Source: Ministry of Education and Research

Teachers at more than half of the municipal schools on Hiiumaa are planning to participate in the teachers' strike. Teachers at half of Hiiumaa's kindergartens are also expected to join the strike.

More than three-quarters of the teachers and support staff at Käina School, where there are several dozen teachers, will take part in the strike, said Maris Varik, the school's teachers' trustee. According to Varik, they did not want to go on strike, but the increasing workload, lack of a career model and the Estonian government's ambiguity over the promised pay rise has forced them to do so.

"Up to 120 percent of the average [national wage – ed. ] was promised, as we all know. At the moment, there is no sign of that anywhere and not even any desire to conclude a collective agreement," Varik said.

At the same time, some schools in Hiiumaa, such as Palade and Suuremõisa, will not be participating in the strike. According to Antti Leigri, headteacher of both schools, teachers appreciate their working environment and understand the regional location in which they work.

"In the Estonian sense, Hiiumaa is an island and a small region, and considering the good work of Hiiumaa Municipality, which today is maintaining and developing its school network in every way possible, our teachers felt there was no reason to participate in the strike," said Leigri.

The Hiiumaa Educational Personnel Union said that the exact number of teachers participating in the strike would only be known towards the end of the week. Four of Hiiumaa's six municipal schools are known to be joining strike as are three of the six kindergartens on the island. A representative of the municipality said that they understand teachers' concerns and the reasons why they are standing up for their rights. However, the municipality will not pay their wages during the strike.

"We are basing our decision on the position of the national conciliator, who in turn relies on the Collective Agreements Act, which says that workers will not be paid during a strike," said Liisi Mäeumbaed, deputy mayor of Hiiumaa.

Ivo Eesmaa, director of both Hiiumaa State High School and Hiiumaa Vocational School, said that staff at the former would not be taking part in the strike and that only one teacher at the latter will be.

General education school teachers are set to start a nationwide strike from January 22, with preschool and vocational school teachers joining in for a three-day sympathy strike from January 24.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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