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Nearly 1,000 teachers gather outside of Saeima to protest

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUTeachers gathered outside of the Latvian parliament in the morning of Thursday, December 11th. This protest act was organized specifically prior to the Saeima’s plenary meeting, and is aimed to request additional money to be found in the next year’s budget in order to finance pay rise for teachers in Latvia.

Roughly 1,000 teachers gathered outside of the Saeima building at 09:00. As Saeima deputies started showing up for work, the crowd ‘welcomed’ them with loud whistles and slogans, as reported by lsm.lv.

Finally Saeima speaker Inara Murniece decided to walk out to the protesters in order to invite representatives of Latvian Trade Union of Education and Science Employees to enter the parliament to holds talks.

While on the way to the protest act, Chairwoman of LIZDA’s Rezekne and Vilani branch Vija Dikule said teachers in Latgale are seriously worried, because after the raising of minimum wages in Latvia next year, the pay of qualified teachers will differ from the minimum wage in the country by only EUR 60.

Dikule said that teachers conceptually approve of the necessity to perform reforms in Latvia’s education system, but only under the condition that there is sufficient funding for this undertaking. Moreover, the realization of reforms is in the hands of the government, not teachers.

LIZDA asks all deputies to speak with protesting teachers from their regions prior to the first Saeima meeting this morning. Teachers ask for the reservation of sufficient funding in the 2015 budget in order to introduce a new pay model for teachers starting September 1st, 2015.

LIZDA representatives emphasize that the new pay model for teachers must not worsen the already poor financial situation. Instead, it should provide a fair and competitive wages for teachers. Of the EUR 12 – 36 million requested by protesters, Latvian Education and Science Ministry has reserved only EUR 3 million, which is not enough to finance the introduction of the new model without serious losses. Representatives of the trade union emphasize that the introduction of the new model using currently available funds is impossible, because the budget had declined by 60% during the crisis.

If a new pay model is not introduced using adequate funding, this means there are no other alternatives to raise wages of teachers and science workers, which is something the ruling parties in the Saeima had promised during the pre-election campaign, notes the trade union.

There will not be any solidarity and fairness without proper reforms of the current remuneration system in Latvia’s education sector. Teachers will remain hostages of the situation. This will only serve to divide them even more. Young perspective teachers will likely avoid working in schools. The government’s new electricity tariffs will impact teachers’ wallets even more. What is even worse – the quality of Latvian education and its availability to children in Latvia will suffer the most.

After holding talks with teachers, Saeima Chairwoman Inara Murniece emphasized that a constructive approach is necessary to resolve the matter regarding teachers’ wages. She added that all sides have to be involved in it – LIZDA, Education and Science Ministry and Saeima Education, Culture and Science Committee. Only then will it be possible to reach a conclusion that is appropriate for teachers, as reported by the Saeima press-service.

In regard to the publishing of pedagogists’ wages, Murniece noted that this matter is planned to be excluded from the 2015 budget plan and related regulations.

Chairman of Saeima Education, Culture and Science Committee Janis Vucans turns attention towards the lack of consensus in the industry in regard to the prospect of changes, because opinions of teachers in regard to the most appropriate remuneration model. He especially emphasized that the Prime Minister has verbally confirmed – if the ministry develops a transparent and supported system for the calculation of teachers’ salaries, funding will be allocated for it.

Ref: 102.109.109.5278


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