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### Government’s Failure to Reach Agreement on Teachers’ Salaries Set to Prolong Strike

On Thursday, discussions regarding teachers’ salaries persisted within the government, yet once again, a consensus remained elusive. It is likely that the teachers’ strike will extend into the following week.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas from the Reform Party emphasized the significance of addressing educational reforms aimed at enhancing teachers’ salaries and alleviating workload concerns in the long run. She acknowledged the complexity and lack of popularity surrounding these proposed reforms.

Kallas pointed out that the €10.8 million required to accommodate the anticipated salary increase for teachers in 2024 would not resolve the underlying issue. She highlighted the challenge of reallocating resources from other sectors to prioritize teachers’ salaries while maintaining parity with other professions like police officers, emergency service personnel, cultural workers, social workers, and tax officials, whose salaries are not expected to rise this year.

Despite the impasse on immediate salary adjustments, Kallas expressed optimism about the extensive discussions held within the government regarding proposals for educational reform. Minister of Education Kristina Kallas presented a comprehensive set of reform suggestions addressing various aspects such as improving working conditions for teachers, managing workload reductions, restructuring the school network, and reforming vocational and primary education. The government engaged in a constructive dialogue on these proposals with a commitment to further action.

Kristina Kallas and Prime Minister Kaja Kallas were reported to have had a video conference with the Estonian Education Personnel Union (EHL), where they emphasized the need to focus on substantive solutions to address the ongoing challenges. The issue of wages is expected to be revisited during the formulation of the national budget strategy for the upcoming year.

Minister of Education Kristina Kallas, representing Eesti 200, emphasized the urgency of immediate allocation of funds for reforms to benefit teachers without prolonged delays. She extended an invitation to key stakeholders, including teacher representatives, private schools, and local governments, to commence negotiations for an education agreement spanning from 2025 to 2027. The aim is to collaboratively establish a career and salary framework that fosters professional appreciation, ensures teacher succession, and aligns salaries with the contributions made.

The ongoing strike led by EHL, advocating for a higher minimum wage for general education teachers, has underlined the pressing need for resolution and compromise from the government.

In response to the situation, former Minister of Education Liina Kersna from the Reform Party urged the government to move beyond rhetoric and present a viable compromise to the teachers. Kersna stressed the importance of action-oriented approaches, solution-driven attitudes, and collaborative efforts to address the common goals shared by all stakeholders involved. She suggested a thorough review of the Ministry of Education’s budget to prioritize teacher salaries and resolve the ongoing strike effectively.

Kersna proposed maintaining the ratio of teachers’ average pay to the national average at the 2023 level, aiming to achieve a target of 120 percent. She recommended reallocating €5.6 million from the Ministry of Education and general education budgets to bridge the gap and uphold the commitment to enhancing teachers’ salaries.

In conclusion, the call for constructive dialogue, pragmatic solutions, and collaborative decision-making resonates strongly amidst the ongoing discussions surrounding teachers’ salaries and educational reforms in Estonia.