Parts: reorganisation of the financing system will attract more funds to education

03.12.2003 | 00:00

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On Saturday, 3 December, Prime Minister Juhan Parts met Toivo Roosimaa, Chairman of the Estonian Employees' Unions' Confederation, and Sven Rondik, Chairperson of the Estonian Education Personnel Union, which are organising a strike of cultural and education employees. The Prime Minister was interested in why in a situation, when the salary of education employees would be raised by 12% in 2004 and the tax-free minimum salary would also increase, the trade unions thought a strike was necessary. "A strike indeed is a legal means to express yourself, but the strike will not result in finding additional funds for the treasury or the teachers' salary fund", said Parts and expressed his hope that the trade union leaders had not given a different impression to striking teachers and aroused unjustified hopes. The Prime Minister said he was ready to confirm to the trade union leaders by an agreement that the coalition had foreseen in the state budget for 2004 a 12% raise in the salary funds of education and cultural employees, and that the tax-free minimum salary would increase to 1,400 kroons next year. Prime Minister made a proposal to renew negotiations in order to discuss how to ensure that local governments would really use the salary funds to raise the teachers' salaries. "The proposal to continue negotiations was accepted, but it was said that the strike would still be held", the Prime Minister said. Referring to the strike demand of trade unions to implement a salary policy which is understandable to education and cultural employees and for this purpose to establish for education and cultural employees minimum wages related to average wages, the Prime Minister referred to a research published recently, according to which the increase of minimum wages would increase unemployment, thus making a negative impact on economy as a whole. The trade union leaders shared the Prime Minister's opinion that the request to link current minimum wages to average wages was not realistic. "As the Prime Minister, I consider it absolutely impermissible that in a situation where the Estonian state spends more funds for education than other European countries on the average, our teachers' salaries are so small", said Parts. According to the Prime Minister, the key to the solution lies not in striking, but in the reorganisation of education financing system, and it is in progress. "Today, education funds are transferred to schools along ten various channels. Our plan is to unite these streamlets into one river and to ensure that money is spent for the right needs", Parts said. "This way it will be possible to pay good teachers a double salary and to increase the quality of educational environment so that it will comply with the standards of the 21st century." The Prime Minister explained to the trade union leaders what the government was doing for the reorganisation of the education financing system and invited the Education Personnel Union to participate in this process. Toivo Maimets, Minister of Education and Research, and Marko Pomerants, Minister of Social Affairs, also participated in the meeting.. Sincerely, Government Press Office Phone + 372 693 5706, +372 693 5792

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