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Fewer teachers continue with strike on Monday

Teachers gathered at Toompea on Monday, January 29, 2024 to remind the government of its promises.
Teachers gathered at Toompea on Monday, January 29, 2024 to remind the government of its promises. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

While the open-ended teachers' strike continues this week, the majority of educators have returned to work. But many intend to rejoin if the government cannot find a solution this week.

Half of the teachers from Tallinn Pirita Economic High School took part in the strike for five days last week. But as of Monday (January 29), all the staff are back at work.

"We are still on strike in our minds because the problem has not been solved fairly. But at the same time, our students are concerned. For a week, there has been no meaningful learning," said Toomas Pikhof, school director.

As a reminder to politicians that the strike is indefinite, the Estonian Education Personnel Union (EHL) organized a picket in Toompea on Monday.  

"I, along with my colleagues next to me, have been (on strike) consecutively for the sixth day in terms of working days. Unfortunately, I have to say that the whole collective is not on strike. I am proud of the 25 percent or seven teachers who have continued with us so far," Muraste school teacher Sigrid told "Aktuaalne kaamera".  

This week, more than 2,500 teachers from 150 different schools have promised to continue with the action.

EHL Chairman Reemo Voltri said: "After all, there are thousands of teachers on strike, and many were still thinking and deciding at the weekend, and the question now is whether they got to their leader in time or in a reasonable time to tell them that they wanted to continue the strike. We've been advising people not to put their manager in a very awkward position either, but to still give advance notice because if you give notice on Monday morning that you are going to strike again, it can be very difficult. So some of them will announce only today that they are going to strike again tomorrow."

Last week, 95 percent of the teachers at the Õismäe Russian Lyceum went on strike and will continue to participate until Tuesday (January 30). Further plans will be made at Tuesday's meeting. 

"In our school, there are quite a few teachers who are prepared to go on strike until the end. We have not asked them directly, of course, because it's not ethical, it is not professional, but we are aware of their opinions and we know that many of them say that are waiting for some kind of decision from the government," said Natalja Kislaja, head of education.

At the same time, teachers who stopped striking can rejoin in the future.

"I'm absolutely of the opinion that if teachers do not see a solution from the government within this week, then surely teachers will continue their indefinite strike," said Pikhof, when asked what will happen if no solution is found.

The EHL said it has enough money in the strike fund to continue indefinitely.  

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Editor: Mait Ots, Helen Wright

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