JUGGLING ACT: Hanno Pevkur says unemployment benefits will be targeted next year.
TALLINN - The Estonian government coalition submitted on Nov. 7 an amendment to the Riigikogu that would reduce the planned increase of unemployment benefits, as it needs to find resources to fund the increase in wages of the medical staff, reports Postimees.
According to a plan that was already approved in 2009, the unemployment benefit was to be increased in 2013 from 65 euros, to a half a minimum wage, or 145 euros a month. According to the amendment submitted by the government on Nov. 7, the increase is being cut to 101 euros.
After the recent strike by doctors and nurses, Social Minister Hanno Pevkur said that the money for wage increases for medical staff will most likely be found by cutting the planned unemployment benefit increase next year. The amendments to the labor contracts law that Reform Party faction chairman Jaanus Tamkivi handed over to parliament proceedings on Nov. 7 confirmed the minister’s plan.
“The bill is caused by the need to find a source for 3.5 million euros that is necessary for the increase of wages of emergency medical staff and healthcare workers financed from the state budget that was agreed upon in October 2012 as the result of the doctors and healthcare workers strike,” Tamkivi said.
“This is the last thing that will be nullified for employees in the labor contract law that was signed trilaterally in April 2008,” said Trade Unions Confederation chairman Harri Taliga. He reiterated that the government changed the planned unemployment insurance compensation rates already in 2009 and this spring, ignoring the agreement.