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Baldzens: Latvia’s education system is over-financed; teachers are not to blame

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUTeachers’ pay must not rely on how successfully the government and municipality handle school network’s reorganization, said the head of Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia Egils Baldzens told Rīta panorama on Thursday, 23 February.

He emphasized that each party has its own job – teachers have to teach children and the government and municipal administration handle the organization of the network of schools. «We have never been against the government fulfilling its duties, but we have always been against being told that if the government does not perform the school reform, teachers should not expect wage rise,» Baldzens explains.

LBAS leader admits that Latvia’s education system is over-financed, but teachers who are paid low wages are not the ones to blame for that. «We cannot allow what Education and Science Ministry and the government have done – supposedly increase wages, while in reality teachers receive less money for the same amount of work,» says the head of the confederation.

When mentioned that wage growth should be correlated with work productivity, Baldzens said that work productivity in Latvia is not small. Although Eurostat has not been publishing any latest data on work productivity for a long time, LBAS leader said Latvia’s productivity of work is equal to 64% of the average EU level. Labour costs, on the other hand, are equal to 38% of the average level. «The gap between 64% and 38% is enough for us to say wages should be higher,» Baldzens concluded.

As previously reported, Education and Science Minister Karlis Sadurskis told Neatkarīgā Rīta Avīze that if the reorganization of the school network does not succeed, there will not be funds to increase teachers’ wages.

According to him, the ministry is currently engaged in a complicated coordination process with other involved institutions to settle the matter with scheduling wage rise. Protests have been voiced by Finance Ministry and Latvian Education and Science Workers’ Trade Union, and they are diametrically opposed.

«We will come to the government with an uncoordinated report. It is possible that we will not be able to comply with the wage rise schedule, because one of the influencing factors is associated with sorting out the school network and how well talks with municipalities go. If talks fail, there will be no source of increased funding for schools. No additional funding, no larger wages,» the minister told the newspaper.

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