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Teachers Leave Work Early

Grade school teachers all over Iceland left work early yesterday to attend meetings to show solidarity in their fight for higher pay, RÚV reports. Wage negotiations with municipalities have proved unsuccessful, and little progress has been made. Numerous teachers have resigned from their jobs, while others are considering it.

Twice in a row, teachers have voted against contracts negotiated by their representatives. A meeting was held with the state negotiator yesterday, which concluded without a solution, but a new meeting is scheduled for tomorrow.

According to Iceland Statistics, the average monthly salary of a full-time grade school teacher is ISK 499,000 (USD 4,400, EUR 4,100) a month. That is 18.5 percent lower than the average salary in Iceland for a full-time job.

The discontent is not limited to the pay teachers receive; added responsibilities are also a problem. Lára Guðrún Agnarsdóttir, a union representative for teachers at Austurbæjarskóli school, Reykjavík, commented, “We have voted down two contracts which offered us very little. Our salary is below the country’s average, and we keep taking on more and more projects and more responsibility. Now, the national curriculum is being added and its adoption. For that, we receive nothing extra, and this is taken from our preparation time, so the stress put on us is enormous.”

Lára stated that Reykjavík City can’t endlessly keep streamlining; a decent pay for teaching, she stressed, is a must.

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