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Union to pay striking teachers allowance as strike continues into new week

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

The strike by teachers working in Estonia's general education schools is set to continue into next week. Those who have already been on strike for a week will also start receiving support from the strike fund, according to head of the Estonian Education Personnel Union (EHL) Reemo Voltri.

"On Monday, the strike in general education schools will continue. Probably in most schools," Voltri said on Vikeraadio's morning show. "More and more information is coming in that schools and teachers are prepared to strike longer because of the government's arrogance."

Starting next week, the union will also begin using money from the strike fund to help provide some financial support for the teachers who remain on strike.

Voltri did not say how much the support would amount to, but reiterated that there is a fair amount in the strike fund and the union would be able to cope with demand. On the condition that an individual teacher has already been on strike this week, the union will offer them the support for the days they are on strike next week.

Voltri added that there are also people who have supported the striking teachers by making financial donations.

The union currently has the backing of 72 percent of the Estonian public, Voltri noted. "We can see that there is support among the people. The support is not coming from the ruling parties."

Voltri advised parents to write to the prime minister and the finance minister, asking them to take urgent action in order to stop the harm being caused to their children's education.

"Since there has been a lot of double-speak from this government, we cannot rely on the government's promises to find the money when it comes to the state budget strategy. What is needed is for the government to show good will, to take a concrete step, and that would mean a five percent increase in the minimum wage for teachers," Voltri said in response to a question on how an agreement to end the strike could be reached.

"We are willing to end the strike if the minimum salary for teachers is raised to €1,836 per month this year. This is a big concession already, so now we would some expect understanding from the government," he added.

On the same morning radio show, Minister of Education Kristina Kallas (Eesti 200) said that although there have already been long disputes among the government over the issue, and as long as no agreement is reached inside the government, the strike will continue, she still has hope of finding a resolution.

"I also have a proposal, regarding which I will call the prime minister to discuss today [Friday]," Kallas said.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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