RIGA - In an interview with Latvian Television's newscast “Panorama” last night, Education and Science Minister Roberts Kilis said that if he fails to keep his promise to teachers, he will step down.
Kilis was evasive in his comments when asked whether the necessary 50 million lats (71.1 million euros) to increase teachers' salaries will be available next year, pointing out that he has spoken with Finance Minister Andris Vilks about this. According to him, Vilks has given him 'signals' that this is possible.
"This will be the decision, which will be made by Saeima and the government,'' the minister said.
As reported, the Union of Latvian Education and Science Workers is pleased with the plan for increasing teachers' salaries presented by Minister of Education and Science Roberts Kilis today, and therefore will not organize any protests, as the union's chairwoman Ingrida Mikisko told LETA.
Kilis has offered the Union of Latvian Education and Science Workers and the Latvian Education Leaders Association to sign a cooperation memorandum regarding wage raises for teachers. The memorandum stipulates that teachers' minimum wage will be increased 10 percent on Sept. 1, therefore increasing salaries for young teachers and teachers who are currently paid less. The memorandum also offers linking the quality of a teacher's performance to salary. Those with quality grades of 4 or 5 will have their salaries augmented at least 10 percent as of Sept. 1 this year.
The memorandum strongly suggests that the Education and Science Ministry has the will to bring order to the system of teacher salaries: a decree has been issued on establishing a task force, which will include two representatives of the Education and Science Workers' Union, and dates have been set by which certain results are to be achieved, said Mikisko. "We have reached agreement to work together. We are finally seeing a way to go," she said, adding that she was happy that the union and the ministry's opinions were finally in line.
"We are very hopeful about the offer, although, of course, we will analyze if it covers all our requirements. We wish to supplement the memorandum with two proposals," added Mikisko, explaining that one proposal dealt with teachers' qualifications, so one teacher could teach several related subjects, and the other with teachers' further education.
The next meeting between Kilis and the Education and Science Workers' Union is scheduled for June 20, by which the task force will have to present specific proposals for the procedure of increasing teachers' salaries.