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Teachers' strike averted after sides reach compromise

A looming strike by teachers has been called off after their union and the government reached a compromise September 16.

Representatives of the government and the Latvian Education and Science Workers' Union (LIZDA) have agreed on a deal regarding the salaries and workload of teachers which means the threatened industrial action will not now proceed.

The fourth round of negotiations turned out to be final. The government gave in to the teachers' demand not only for salary rises for the next year and workload limits, but also undertook to oblige the next government to develop and approve the teacher's salary increase schedule in its medium-term budget planning.

"Friends, it will be okay! The good news is that after four days the representatives of the government together with [union representative] Ms. Vanaga have reached an agreement. This means that all teachers, not only school teachers, will receive a salary supplement," Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš told the media.

The Minister of Education and Science, Anita Muižniece, said that from January 2023, the "cost per pupil" in schools and colleges will increase, which means additional funds for increasing teachers' salaries.

From September of next year, teachers will switch to a 36-hour work week with the ratio: 65% of the time for work during school hours and 35% - outside of them. The lowest salary rate will be 1,080 euros per month.

It has also been agreed that from January 2023, the salary rate for preschool teachers will increase to 1,070 euros, which means an increase of 100 euros compared to September of this year. From September next year, it is also planned to change the load balance in preschools to: 34+6.

An 11% increase in funding will be expected in the education of professional vocations In total, these changes will cost an additional 60.2 million euros from the state budget.

The leader of the LIZDA union, Inga Vanaga, welcomed the agreement. "Greater or smaller compromises are absolutely for all groups of educators, no one is forgotten, everyone is included. All educators have solutions from next January," Vanaga said.

She welcomed the fact that the additional funding of 60 million euros will not be a one-off, but will be included in the budget base. "It's a guarantee that it's not a one-time bonus," she added.

The head of the union apologized that the compromises came so late. "We ask for mutual understanding both in collectives and leaders, in municipalities and with parents. And there will probably be some inconveniences on Monday with the provision of the learning process, but we ask you to solve them together," Vanaga said. 

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