UPDATED: State okays teachers' wage reform

On Tuesday the Latvian government greenlighted the teachers' wage reform that will see wages being increased gradually starting September 1, with the efficiency of the program to be reviewed after a year.

A number of things still have to be worked out: social guarantees for teachers who'll lose their jobs due to the reform, as well as the specific schedule of increasing the teachers' rate of pay. 

"These are the rules, the first step for us to go towards higher quality requirements, optimizing the [school] network and [introducing] a sustainable model," PM Māris Kučinskis told the press. 

Earlier Tuesday Kučinskis told Latvian Radio that the extra €31.5m required to fund the reform in 2017 might leave several other sectors without extra allocations. 

"I hope the budget will go according to plan, and we'll be able to afford [the reform]," he said.

The €31.5m for teachers' wages makes up more than a half of all the money available for extra allocations next year. 

"Something else will have to be put aside," he said, hoping that the ministers will find common ground on the matter.

Kučinskis said the only case when problems with adopting the budget might arise would be if a coalition party threatens to leave the government.

While Indriķis Muižnieks, a representative of the University of Latvia, told Latvian Radio that the new funding model will be challenging to the universities as higher education doesn't fit the model, and lecturers' wages will be similar to or lower than at schools, meaning that universities will have trouble keeping personnel.

The Education Ministry says that teachers' wages would increase by up to 62% (or €200 to €300) if the reform is implemented, while the Latvian Trade Union of Education and Science Employees (LIZDA) claims that not a single teacher would see his or her salary increase as much.

Last Thursday, after talks with PM Māris Kučinskis and reaching compromise on several fronts, LIZDA opted to support the new remuneration model. 

The government still needs to €9.3m of extra funding to implement the reform in 2016.

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