Teacher unions have, in many countries, been at the forefront of advocacy and demanding space and time in the curriculum to deal with of values, democracy, citizenship, as well as climate change and developing their critical thinking capacity. In 2015 Education Ministries from the EU endorsed the Paris declaration reinforcing: “The fundamental values that lie at the heart of the EU are respect for human dignity and freedom (including freedom of expression), democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights.”

I am pleased and honoured to present the work programme for 2017 to 2020. Let me thank you: the ETUCE Committee, the ETUCE Bureau, the member organisations and you, Fred, for your trust, confidence and the support for me as the new ETUCE European Director.

At the end of November 2016, at the Kiev Plenary Session of Trade Union of Education and Science Workers of Ukraine (TUESWU), a new Sectoral Agreement with Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine was signed for 2016-2020. The document was signed by Georgiy Trukhanov, President of TUESWU, and Lilia Grinevich, Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine, during a grand ceremony.

In the result of the strike in November 2015, 9 million Euros were reserved from the state budget for teachers’ salaries raise. In September 2016, at the meeting of the Latvian Cabinet of Ministers, the Latvian Trade Union of Education and Science Employees (LIZDA) officials were informed that the Ministry of Education and Science of Latvia (IZM) made the decision to invest 1.7 million Euros, from the assigned 9 million for teachers’ salaries, in order to achieve another objective, which had not been negotiated before.

In Hungary, the public education system is going through a constant and radical change since 1989. On the one hand, this is due to reoccurring “world-changing” ideas of several governments aiming to enhance the quality of education, and on the other hand, due to international surveys (mostly PISA) that necessitate measures. At the same time, little time and energy are spent on the consolidation of teachers’ working conditions and the establishment of a social dialogue between the government and teachers’ representatives.

Even though every Estonian government constantly declares education and teachers to be a priority, it hasn’t been proved by actions. Before the last parliament elections all the parties promised that by 2019, teachers’ minimum salary will make 120% of the national average salary (in 2016, national average salary was 1119 Euros). The new government that was established on 23 November 2016, has promised the same. In reality, the teachers’ minimum salaries have started receding from the national average since 2016.