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Läänemets: SDE ministries can contribute to €10.8 million for teachers' salaries

Lauri Läänemets (SDE).
Lauri Läänemets (SDE). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

SDE's three ministries are ready to contribute to the additional €10.8 million needed to increase salaries this year party Chairman Lauri Läänemets told ERR on Friday. He said Eesti 200 is also willing, but added Reform is still unwilling to act.

As the first week of the nationwide teachers' strike ended, Läänemets said his party is still looking to solve the problem.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said this week the extra money must come from either the Ministry of Education or other ministries must chip in to find the money. Kallas said no other ministers have volunteered to contribute funds from their areas of responsibility. Additionally, money could be found from education reforms.

Asked by ERR if SDE was looking into the proposal, Läänemets said the party had done so and this is why a proposal to use bonus money had been put forward.

"That's why we made this proposal. We said that we are aware of where we are going to get this money. We still hold this view," he said.

But he said this idea can still be shot down by Reform as the party has no will to solve the crisis. "They are waiting for the strike to die down and then they won't have to find the money. But I cannot agree with that," the chairman said.

Kaja Kallas and Lauri Läänemets. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

A little over €3 million could be found from SDE's ministries. He added: "And I understand that the Estonian 200 are also ready to find the money eventually."

But, Läänemets said, at the end of the day, Reform does not want to find this money and solve the problem. Asked why, he said the party sees this as "blackmail".

"I think that is for the Reform Party to explain. My understanding is that they see it as blackmail /../ I understand that their role model is [former UK Prime Minister] Margaret Thatcher, who said that all strikes should be suppressed. This is something that the Reform Party has said quite a lot in the media, as it has been said in government discussions between us that if they give in to teachers now, then the next group will come with their more demands," he said.

Läänemets said the government has been discussing this topic for weeks but has not managed to find a way forward, essentially meaning it is "unable to act on certain issues".

Asked if there is a leadership crisis in the government, he said it is "very big problem" that other issues are not getting the same amount of attention. There is so no understanding of what the prime minister's plan is.

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

"We have repeatedly asked what the prime minister's plan is, what the prime minister's solution is, and so far this solution has not been given. The question is not that the coalition parties want to know from her, the question is that Estonia wants to know whether the prime minister has any solution at all for today's Estonia," he said.

Läänemets said this experience will "definitely" affect how the coalition parties work together in future. He said coalition governments always work on joint agreements and compromises, and one party cannot ignore the others.

"The concern now is that one side is actually unwilling to find a compromise," he said, adding reforms must be made but the money needed will not be found this way.

"We get very little money from the education reform compared to how much is needed to raise teachers' salaries," the interior minister said.

The strike will continue on Monday.

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Editor: Aleksander Krjukov, Helen Wright

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