In order to remain competitive on the labor market, Director General of the Estonian Rescue Board Kuno Tammearu wants to raise the average monthly salary of rescue workers to €1,000, daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) said.
With an average monthly wage of €885, rescue workers are currently the lowest paid public sector employees in Estonia.
Tammearu said that he wants an additional €6 million for his department in 2019 to help boost the average wages of rescue workers closer to the national average wage, which is increasing at a rapid pace.
"It is difficult for us to compete with other professions when we are able to pay rescue workers €885 on average," Tammearu told EPL in an interview. "The pay of a newcomer is about €740 euros minus taxes, which makes it understandable why it is difficult for us to get new people." According to the chief, another issue is that young people today no longer possess previous experience with manual work and tools, such as an axe, chainsaw or power cutter, which means extra work for the agency's training program.
The Rescue Board received €1.57 million in additional funding this year, allowing the agency to increase the wages of its lowest ranks by 5.4 percent on average.
"The national average wage has grown rapidly, and since it hasn't been possible for us to go along with it, the gap has become wider and wider over the years," Tammearu said. "The average wage in the second quarter of last year was €1,243; the average wage of a rescue worker was €885 euros. This gap just is too big."
At the same time, he continued, rescue workers in Latvia and Lithuania are paid on average €60 and €10-15 more than the respective national average wages.
"The Ministry of the Interior is very well aware of our situation with regard to wages," Tammearu said. "We asked for an additional €6.2 million for this year, and received €1.57 million. We will ask next year as well; the minister is prepared to ask as well."
Editor: Aili Vahtla