Latvian teachers' union: Ministry's wage calculations are incorrect

The issue of teachers' salaries remains unclear, causing growing outrage among teachers - there is even a cut for some instead of the promised pay rise. Inga Vanaga, Chair of the Latvian Union of Education and Science Workers (LIZDA), said in an interview with Latvian Radio October 17 that salaries have not been calculated correctly possibly also due to staff changes at the Education Ministry.

The Union reportedly found 11 reasons why teachers may currently have a pay cut. For example, there are municipalities that redistribute funding, subtracting some of the money from a larger school and allocating it to a smaller one. There may also be insufficient funding in municipalities where the number of pupils has decreased or the municipality has previously invested more from its budget, but now the amount is being reduced.

“Many educational institutions are experiencing these problems and they point out that the value of the hours has become less in euros terms because of the €61.67 million allocated in January, and a lot of that money was put in the pay rate, raised wages, but the money had to be spent balancing the load or in bonuses,” Vanaga explained.

Vanaga emphasized that she does not want to condemn any school principal or local government, because in the past there has been no such experience when money is given in the middle of the school year. The Ministry should have explained how it should have been handled correctly and what the consequences of one activity or another could have, according to Vanaga.

She also points out that, although this situation can sometimes be addressed at the level of the institution or local government, it can now be said with certainty that the calculations on the part of the Ministry are not correct and the earmarked grant paid out by the State is not sufficient this month to ensure the increase of teachers' remuneration and the introduction of balancing of workloads.

“We concede the idea that the inaccuracy of the calculations could be due to the fact that there has also been quite a rapid shift of staff within the IZM itself [..]. That is why we have been asking for a review of this funding system for several years and we are not ruling out that there may also be some human factor out there, simply ignorance of the system, ignorance of essential nuances, traceability of the last changes by the previous government,” said the LIZDA spokeswoman.

After the agreement reached in April on the increase of teachers' remuneration, IZM has repeatedly emphasized that the planned funding will be enough for all the promised goals, but Union Chairwoman Vanaga predicted that the earmarked grant granted to ensure teachers' pay could not be enough in municipalities where the number of students has decreased significantly.

Teacher: Feels like a stab in the back

Latvian Radio spoke to Inita Āboliņa, a history and social sciences teacher at Ventspils 1 Secondary School, who said that she has been working as a teacher for many years, but feels for the first time “that she would have been stabbed in the back with a knife.” When she saw her salary coming into her bank account, she noticed that the salary had fallen by 110 euros instead of rising, and that was the net salary.

No one had warned Inita about the pay cut, so she had had a really big shock and uncertainty. It was agreed in the spring that her workload would be the same as before, but she was told on September 1 that it would still be four hours less.

Clover said her gross salary has previously been around €1,136, but this year's pay rate is about €90 more. But with September 1, there has been a shift from a 30-hour working week to a 36-hour working week, balancing the teacher's working week and ensuring a distribution of 65% and 35% workload, including proportionally increasing teachers' lower gross pay rate from €900 to €1,080.

School management had to align the workload because there was a requirement that the teacher should not work more than the workload. If it is over the load, it must be paid from the bonus funding.

The school's management informed Ventspils Education Board, which obtained data from other schools in the municipality. But as Āboliņā pointed out, she certainly isn't the only one in that situation.

According to Latvian Telelvision, teachers in Riga schools have also experienced a drop in wages. Riga City Council (RD) said that a balanced workload means a higher number of paid hours for the teacher, but it should be taken into account that the same pay per hour can only be ensured if there is sufficient funding. Compared to the previous school year in Riga, the number of contact and paid hours has increased considerably, which has resulted in a reduction of the hourly fee in many schools. That's because schools have struggled to balance the number of hours.

In order to explain and address the situation, on Thursday, October 19, LIZDA will hold a meeting on the calculations of the State budget target grant and the problems detected. Representatives of the IZM will attend the meeting and provide an explanation.

LIZDA also conducted a local government survey to see whether municipalities received full funding. LIZDA will present these survey results on October 19.

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