More than a thousand Estonian teachers rallied in front of parliament demanding a wage increase as the government looks to keep the budget deficit within European Union rules.
Educators are considering “all measures, including strikes” unless their demand for a pay hike of at least 20 percent is accepted, said Sven Rondik, head of the educational workers’ union, who was reading a petition that was given to parliament and the government today in Tallinn.
The Baltic nation, the only euro-area member with a budget surplus in 2010, sees a surplus of 0.2 percent of economic output this year. Next year, it plans a deficit of 2.1 percent, mainly due to spending proceeds from selling its spare United Nations emissions credits and due to fully resuming state pension contributions after a temporary freeze in 2009.
The union wants a 20 percent increase in teachers’ wages next year and 15 percent in both 2013 and 2014. The 2012 jump would raise gross monthly wages for junior teachers to 730 euros ($1,017) from 608 euros, and for the most senior teachers to 1,067 euros from 889 euros, according to its website.
The ruling parties, the Reform Party and the Isamaa ja Res Publica Liit, are breaking promises made during the March election campaign to raise teachers’ wages, Rondik said.
Estonia’s budget resources for next year don’t allow for an increase in public-sector wages, including the minimum wage for teachers, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said yesterday in parliament. Teachers’ pay could rise 30 percent through reducing the number of schools by at least half, he said.
Isamaa ja Res Publica Liit said in an e-mailed statement today that teacher’s average pay should exceed the national average by 20 percent. It said additional funds need to be found “in the coming years, budget resources permitting.”
Estonia’s average gross monthly wage was 857 euros in the second quarter, according to the statistics office. The Finance Ministry in September forecast average pay rising to 872 euros next year, and to 1,020 euros by 2015.