Several thousands of teachers protest against Education Ministry's proposal on workload balancing

  • 2024-05-21
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Several thousand teachers gathered in front of the government building on Tuesday to express their protest agianst the Education and Science Ministry's proposal on balancing teachers' workloads, LETA observed.

The protesters are carrying a large number of posters, the content of which is about the problems in the sector and calls for action to fix them. The placards call on politicians to treat teachers with respect and to keep their promises. Many of the protesters are wearing blue vests.

As the protest action drew to a close, LIZDA representatives went to the government building to demand a meeting with politicians. However, the union representatives did not get beyond the security guard post. The protesters who remained outside the government building shouted various slogans, including demanding a dialogue.

A meeting with government representatives, including Prime Minister Evika Silina (New Unity), was scheduled for last week. However, according to LIZDA Chair Vanaga, the prime minister met only with Education and Science Minister Anda Caksa (New Unity), and LIZDA was not invited to the meeting.

Before the start of the protest, Inga Vanaga, the Chair of the Latvian Trade Union of Education and Science Employees (LIZDA), continued to maintain her position to the media that the ministry's proposal would worsen working conditions for teachers. She also expressed her dissatisfaction that government representatives had not invited the LIZDA council to a meeting on Tuesday.

Balancing the workload of teachers was one of the demands of the LIZDA strike. A model for balancing workloads should have been agreed on last May, but the trade union and the ministry still have different visions on how to implement it.

The ministry proposes to introduce a single normal working time of 40 hours per week from September 1, 2025. The ministry also proposes to establish a new methodology for the composition of teachers' workload in astronomical hours, which include teaching lessons. This means teaching time and time for other duties specified by the head of the educational establishment in the teacher's job description.

The teachers' trade union is concerned that the ministry's proposal could reduce the value of working hours, as has already happened in 2016 and 2023.

Education and Science Minister Anda Caksa is convinced that the proposal to rebalance teachers' workloads is moving towards teachers being paid for every hour they work, regardless of the workload they are hired for and the workload they are assigned.

"Teachers come with the historical feeling that we do not pay for all hours, so I want to assure you that we are moving towards the fact that next year every hour for teachers will be paid ," the politician stressed.