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Voltri: More teachers consider prolonging the strike

Teachers held a rally in Tartu to support the nationwide teachers strike.
Teachers held a rally in Tartu to support the nationwide teachers strike. Source: Airika Harrik/ERR

On Wednesday evening, teachers' union leader Reemo Voltri told "AK" that there are growing reports that they may continue to strike beyond three days.

"Many teachers in Estonia had said in advance that they would go on strike for up to three days, but since yesterday, there have been an increasing number of reports that they intend to strike for longer," Voltri said.

"And that possibility is always there. Teachers who are not bound by a collective agreement also have the possibility of extending the strike. And there are more and more signals that people want to strike for a longer period to stand up for Estonian education," he said.

Voltri said that the teachers' union did not hear from the government on Wednesday. However, he hopes that the government would find a solution on Thursday.

"Tomorrow the government will meet again and I am advised that this issue will be discussed and hopefully a solution will be found so that we can actually move towards the promised wage increase. We have been very clear about our willingness to compromise. After all, we started the negotiations with the request that teachers' salaries should be equal to the national average, that is, a minimum wage of €1,950, and now we have reached the point where we would end the strike if the minimum wage is raised to €1,836. It would still be a very concrete step that the government could take to show that they are not only not going to accept it, but that they are actually going to do something about it. After that, we can start negotiating a meaningful bargaining agreement for the next few years to address issues other than wages," Voltri said.

He said that even if the government did not give the teachers the pay rise, the strike would not have failed.

"First of all, we have already brought serious issues concerning education and teachers to the table, and they are being addressed, and the entire society is understanding that we cannot continue in this way, and that our teaching profession is in decline. Of the 17,000 teachers in our general education institutions today, 3,500 are unqualified. This percentage has climbed by 50 percent in recent years, so we cannot continue to provide a high-quality education in Estonia. While awareness of the issue is important, I also believe that the Estonian government doesn't want to damage our children and youth's education and will make intelligent choices tomorrow," Voltri said.

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Editor: Merili Nael, Kristina Kersa

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