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Union agreement halts looming school strike

TT/The Local/rm · 27 Sep 2012, 07:24

Published: 27 Sep 2012 07:24 GMT+02:00

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“It was close, it was very close,” said Metta Fjelkner, chairperson for the National Union of Teachers (Lärarnas Riksförbund) to news agency TT on Wednesday evening.

After fierce negotiations, the unions and employers the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR) managed to reach an agreement of a pay rise for teachers of 4.2 percent this year.

This will mean some 1,100 kronor ($167) more per month for the country’s educators, according to the unions.

“We now have an agreement in place which means that we can start re-appraising the profession – and this is crucial if we are to change the negative spiral in our schools,” said Fjelkner in a statement on Wednesday.

The chairwoman for the Swedish Teachers’ Union (Lärarförbundet), Eva-Lis Sirén, told news agency TT that the agreement will boost teachers’ salaries - a first step toward raising the status of the teaching profession in Sweden:

“But it is far from the levels we will need to turn around the national teacher shortage,” she said.

The pay rise for this year will be paid out retroactively from April 1st, which will give teachers a lump sum of 9,000 kronor on average as well as the monthly increase.

However, the National Union of Teachers nearly scuppered the deal, in which case a strike would have been hard to avoid.

Six out of the fifteen members of the union board had registered their reservations against accepting the bid on Tuesday.

The unions were driving a hard bargain, demanding 10,000 kronor more a month for teachers in the long term.

Story continues below…

Fjelkner firmly believes they will reach that goal eventually:

“I have great hopes that a large number of Sweden’s teachers will have much higher salaries by 2016-2017 than today,” she said to TT.

TT/The Local/rm (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

09:42 September 27, 2012 by Abe L
So everyone has to cut back and is getting hitted by the crisis but teachers actually went out and threatened to strike? I personally believe people in such roles should not be allowed to strike in the first place due to the impact of their actions, but in general this was probably the worst time for such actions.

I sincerely wonder how many others are getting a raise this year. The worst part is that this is tax money that could have been spend on important projects.
11:26 September 27, 2012 by Reptile
@ Abe L

"The worst part is that this is tax money that could have been spend on important projects."

Educating children is not an important project???
12:48 September 27, 2012 by StockholmSam
"The unions were driving a hard bargain, demanding 10,000 kronor more a month for teachers in the long term."

Hard bargain my @ss. To go from demanding 10,000 kronor more per month to accepting 1000 kronor per month reveals just how pathetic the teacher's union really is. I remember them negotiating for nearly 12 months a couple of years ago and all the teachers were waiting and waiting for a pay raise while the cost of living went up around 2,5%. They suffered essentially a pay cut for that year but expected great things from the union because let's face it, if it is taking 12 months to work out the deal, then obviously the union is pushing hard, right? Wrong. The accepted deal was exactly the increase in living costs! 2,5%! Point is, nobody is standing up for the teachers properly, yet these unions demand membership fees.

@Abe L, you obviously do not know the value of an educated populace. It is crucial to a society's development and makes Sweden more competitive in the global marketplace. Unless, of course, you would rather turn us into a nation of low-wage laborers like so many underdeveloped nations out there. Sweden's strength is its innovative spirit, especially along technological lines. This is what makes us competitive and it requires students with strong analytical skills in the maths and sciences. And of course, we need to be able to evaluate our decisions, which requires good analytical skills in the social sciences.

The problem is that teachers cannot take part in the free-market aspects of our capitalist system. A hairdresser can go out and gross 800 kronor per haircut. After five haircuts in a day, that is 4,000 kronor, gross. All with just a bit of talent and minimal education. Teachers, on the other hand, cannot go out and open up their own little booth and start teaching. They are at the mercy of the schools, which determine how much the teachers make. And how much does a teacher make? For one day's work, 1400 kronor gross is probably average. That is nothing compared to the hairdresser. Plus, the headache of unruly classrooms, parent meetings, lesson prep and homework grading. And one very talented teacher could be making less than a very poor teacher. Is that fair? No.

There needs to be a system in place that permits teachers to put their skills out to the broader market on their own and let the price mechanism of the free market determine how much the teacher's investment in their trade is really worth. After nearly six years of university studies, you would think that a teacher could teach a subject and evaluate a student without having to go through a school organization. It is not the teachers that are ruining their pay, nor is it the unions. It is the schools. After all, the school is the only setting where the teacher can ply his trade and the schools are the ones offering the paycheck. But who, really, is the customer? The students, who pay nothing. There needs to be a new model for teaching.
13:38 September 27, 2012 by just a question
These Union of workers are a joke.

The main problem of Swedish teachers is not the salary.

The problem is called spoiled students that will do anything to sabotage the class, using verbal or even physical violence sometimes. Parents will look in another direction, they are too busy living their selfish lives.

It doesn't matter how much do you increase the salary. Nobody wants a job where you are treated like a useless person.
19:39 September 27, 2012 by Swedishmyth
Public employees being allowed to strike is nothing but corruption. If they want higher salaries, try the market instead of Soviet-style decrees.
14:05 September 28, 2012 by StockholmSam

You are half right. You are correct that teachers need access to the market on their own terms, without the interference of schools and unions.

But not all teachers are public employees. Privately owned free schools in Sweden are significant employers in the education industry. Those teachers are, essentially, private-sector employees. This causes problems because they are often less-protected by federal laws than teachers employed by kommunal schools.
15:35 September 28, 2012 by smilingjack
I note the same argument the world over that everyone else gets paid more than teachers but Ive never known a teacher to change occupation. ever.

In australia they bitch and moan endlessly.

1st day on the job near enough to 420,000kr a year going up 700,000kr a year plus "extras". 12 weeks annual leave and a heap of pupil free days. Ive even know lawyers to change over to teaching for the 12 weeks off and 9 to 3 day.

the reason they cant change jobs is because they arent qualified to do anything else and their entrance score into uni wouldnt get them into any other courses.
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