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Close to 9,500 teachers at 330 schools on strike in Estonia from Monday

An empty classroom in Estonia.
An empty classroom in Estonia. Source: Priit Mürk, Ken Mürk, Siim Lõvi/ERR

A total of 9,471 teachers across 330 schools in Estonia are taking part in a nationwide strike on Monday, the main teaching union told ERR.

The strike involves teachers at general education schools.

The Estonian Education Personnel Union (EHL) says the number of strikers is to nearly double to 18,000 once teachers at kindergartens and vocational schools join a solidarity strike, from Wednesday.

The EHL says that the breakdown of striker numbers are as follows:

In general education schools, 169 strikes have been declared involving 2,581 people out on strike.

Among younger learner educators, there will be 283 solidarity strikes, involving 5,566 people.

A total of 37 solidarity strikes among vocational schools and hobby schools are set to take place in support of the general education strike, totaling 558 strikers.

Overall, 819 strikes, both open-ended in terms of time-frame (ie. the general education teachers) and for a fixed term (involving mainly kindergarten and vocational school teachers), are due to take place, with 18,176 people due to go out on strike.

By region, the most populous area, Harju County, which includes Tallinn, will see 8,821 people on strike across all categories.

In Tallinn alone, 57 general education schools run by local government are taking part in the strike from Monday, with 2,917 teachers involved. In addition, 460 staff at general education schools are taking part in the support strike.

Only one school in the capital, the Tallinn Kadaka Basic School, a special needs facility, is not taking part in the strike.

A three-day solidarity strike involving kindergarten and vocational schools staff is due to take place from Wednesday to Friday. This will involve 2,058 staff from 106 kindergartens, plus 114 staff from four hobby schools; additionally, staff at the Kopli Vocational School in Põhja-Tallinn are set to strike for two days, January 24-25.

The general education teachers' strike is open-ended in terms of time-frame, as things stand.

Tartu County is the region with the second-highest number of declared strikers, at 2,523, and Pärnu County is in third place, with 1,016 going out on strike.

A demonstration in support of teachers is due to take place on Toompea, seat of the Riigikogu, in Tallinn, at 10 a.m. Monday. Another demonstration is also due to take place in Town Hall Square (Raekoja plats) in Tartu, on Wednesday, starting at 12 noon.

The EHL has set as a baseline minimum a demand of €1,835 per month gross as a minimum wage for teachers, a sum which would entail a wage hike for many.

This hike would cost the state purse around €10 million, it is estimated.

Over the longer term, the EHL and education staff want a longer-term collective agreement which would ensure a nationwide average wage for teachers at a level 120 percent of that of the national average, by 2027.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Urmet Kook

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