Thursday, March 8, 2012

Estonia's iron lady

Yesterday Maris and I went to the Iron Lady, it was a really interesting movie about Margaret Thatcher.  Some of the interesting themes of the movie was how Margaret Thatcher dealt with the unions to implement her economic reforms.  Right now the teachers are striking in Estonia to get a pay increase, other unions are striking to support the teachers union and some are trying to get a pay raise themselves.  The public transportation in Tallinn is also striking, so public transportation is out today.  This is big news for Estonia, Typically Estonians are very peaceful and are not the type to join in public protests and to go on strike.  This is a change for society which is certainly a good thing.  The person who will deal with the teacher's union in Estonia is Minister of Education (former minister of defense who me, Mom, and Dad saw while eating breakfast at the hotel Olümpia) Jaak Aaviksoo.  He is known as a strong and powerful leader.  The government has promised to raise salaries in the past, the question is really how much do they raise them and when do they raise them.  Also should salaries be tied to a broader reform such as closing down schools in rural locations.  As the population continues to age and to urbanize there are some schools that need to be shut down because there is not enough students to support them.  Aaviksoo has already made the first proposal to raise the wage of all teachers to 700 euros a month, this affects only the young teachers who currently start out at 608 euros a month.  Senior teachers already make more than 700.  The teachers union has rejected this proposal.  If I had to bet on a winner I would normally bet on Aaviksoo, but this is a new situation for Estonia.  We'll see how it turns out for the teachers and for Mr. Aaviksoo.  But however it turns out it was nice for Maris to have the day off, otherwise we wouldn't have seen the Iron Lady.  Maybe in 20 years we will be able to see an Estonian remake staring Mr. Aaviksoo.

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