Head of Latvian Health and Social Care Workers Union Valdis Keris believes doctors who took part in the Tuesday, 3 November, were finally heard.
He notes that this is true because representatives of the trade union have been invited to the Saeima for a high-rank meeting in order to voice their position.
Keris reminds that Latvian doctors wish the healthcare budget is provided with additional EUR 130 million, which is 0.5% of the country’s GDP. He notes that EUR 22 million would be used to increase wages in order to keep increasing wages by at least 10% once every two years. This is because average wages in the country grow by approximately 5% every year.
When asked about the reason why not as many people appeared at the protest act as previously planned, Keris said there is always something in the way – mist, early morning or something else.
The protest act outside the Saeima went by peacefully. The crowd dispersed within ten minutes after the end of the protest act. Keris did conclude the protest act earlier than previously planned, by 10:00.
According to LETA, the protest act gathered nearly 200 people.
People held up posters saying ‘Are you badly sick? Feel weak and unprotected! Well, deal with it yourself! The government and the Saeima’, ‘We demand wages equal to responsible, physical and emotional pressure’, ‘Our silence would only hurt your health’, ‘Our specialists are highly valued in Europe! Why doesn’t Latvia value us?’ and ‘Save us – we save you’.
Healthcare Minister Guntis Belevics had mentioned prior to the Saeima meeting that he would vote in favour of the next year’s budget, because it is not good when the parliament and the government vote differently. He added that failure to approve the budget would topple the government.
Saeima deputy Artuss Kaimins had met with protesters. He encouraged them to go out to the streets and said Saeima deputies were having a plenary meeting, adding that deputies don’t hear their pleas at all. He also chastised the guards who initially did not let him pass to get to the microphone. In the end the crowd applauded Kaimins.
Head of LIZDA, Inga Vanaga, also came joined the protesters and even gave them a speech. In it, she expressed her gratitude to doctors and their efforts to oppose the budget that is not in any way friendly towards medicine or education. Vanaga emphasized that the excuse that ‘there is no more money in the budget’ no longer works. She added that the government and the Saeima somehow found money to increase their own wages.
As it is known, the main reason for the protest act is the planned reduction of the healthcare budget in Latvia.