Academic trade unions petition to improve salaries and working conditions

The University of Tartu's main building. Image is illustrative Source: Simo Sepp/

Estonia's academic trade unions have sent a sectoral agreement draft to the council of rectors of the Estonian universities. In the draft, the unions petition for improved working conditions, and for a salary increase by at least 30 percent.

Chairwoman of academic trade unions and a member of trade union Universitas, Triin Roosalu, said that the funding in the academic and scientific spheres is struggling to keep up with economic growth in Estonia. As a result, the salaries of higher education employees have been increasing at a much slower pace than those in the private and public sectors.

"We are also very far behind in the public funding of science. There is an agreement in the government strategy pegging it to 1 percent of GDP, while in realty it is now at the half-percent level," adds Roosalu.

According to Roosalu, higher education employees have analyzed the situation and began drafting their proposal based on this analysis already in March 2019.

"We are petitioning for the 30-percent salary increase for academic sector employees, that means it's no less than €350 per month," says Roosalu. She explains that behind this number is a longterm stagnation in the academic sector.

Higher education employees want the agreement to take effect starting 2020. Among other things, the unions are petitioning for the extension of the minimum leave for academic employees from currently 35 days to 56 days, due to the nature of their work.

In April 2018, Estonian scientists organized a protest outside the Riigikogu to highlight the problem of funding in the academic sector. Several professors and representatives spoke in support of the protest, including Minister of Education Mailis Reps (Centre), and representative of Tallinn University, Liisi Keedus, who reminded politicians of their promise to make it no less than 1 percent GDP.

Editor: Ksenia Fadina, Dario Cavegn

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