Latvia: the impact of the pandemic on teachers is extremely worrying

19 November 2021

The COVID 19 outbreak is a public health crisis quite different than anything Europe has faced for many years. As education personnel and their trade unions grapple with the outbreak, we are supporting and informing member organisations in any way we can.

LIZDA, the Latvian Trade Union of Education and Science Employees, shared very worrying information with ETUCE regarding the impact of the pandemic on teachers and other education personnel. With the solidarity support of ETUCE, the union is putting pressure on their government.

In Latvia, 93% of employees from the education and science sector have understood the necessity to be vaccinated, but the situation in the education sector is very worrying as most employees suffer from incredibly heavy workload, stress, and burnout. An open letter has been sent to the Latvian government about the emergency in the education sector. The letter emphasizes several huge problems that have been neglected for too long by legislators and policy makers in Latvia.

LIZDA is requesting an additional pay for education employees for the increased workload as well as for the high-risk working conditions created by the pandemic and the shift to hybrid learning and teaching. LIZDA foresees that the workload of teachers and other education personnel will continue to grow. It is expected that approximately 10% of education employees will leave the profession in the near future due to the high workload. The existing vacancies will have to be filled by the remaining teachers which will lead to more pressure on them.

Workload and work-related burn out of education employees are expected to increase. A survey carried out by LIZDA shows that most teachers suffer from burnout due to excessive workload and almost half of them would like to leave the profession within the next 5 years. Approximately 90% of respondents indicated that they regularly experience work-related stress and/or burnout.

Additionally, the government was about to vote a regulation which would have allowed the suspension from employment of teachers who are not vaccinated. With the support of ETUCE, LIZDA managed to adapt this regulation. Teachers and other education personnel who have started the vaccination process will not be suspended from employment.

This is a small victory, and we are happy to learn that ETUCE solidarity work is bringing fruitful results. Of course, there is still a lot of work to do in the fight for teachers’ rights in Latvia and across Europe. ETUCE will always continue supporting its member organisations in solidarity.