RIGA - Addressing a booing crowd of protested in Dome Square, Riga, on Monday, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) admitted that the adoption of teachers' pay rise schedule was delayed, but stressed that his government would keep its promises to the teachers.
Karins thanked those teachers he had had an opportunity to talk to on his way to Dome Square, saying that this had been a "rare chance to listen" to the teachers representing many schools.
The prime minister said that while working with the Latvian Trade Union of Education and Science Employees (LIZDA) in recent years, the promises on pay increases had been fulfilled to the last cent.
"The increase that was agreed, that the trade union had demanded, was provided," the prime minister said.
Karins admitted that the pre-election promise about the teachers' pay rise scheduled was slightly delayed. "If there is someone who must take responsibility for this delay, it's me of course," he said, adding that the delay did not occur because a negligent attitude or reluctance to raise the teacher's salaries but because of the complex procedures.
"The work has a result and the next schedule has been adopted. The schedule has been worked out in cooperation with LIZDA," the prime minister said.
Karins pledged to continue to work with the teachers' union and voiced confidence that all problems can be solved through dialogue.
The protesters met Karins' address with booing, whistling and mocking exclamations. Some protesters called on Karins to resign and stop lying.
LIZDA has warned that if the government does not fulfill its agreement with the union, the three-day nationwide strike of teachers, which starts Monday, might be prolonged.
As reported, several thousand education employees today gathered for a rally in Riga, demanding a respectful attitude and fulfillment of their demands, LETA observed.
Protesters started their rally from the LIZDA office, going to the Dome Square. Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) joined the rally from the Cabinet of Ministers building.
Among participants of the rally there are representatives of all kinds of education establishments and Latvian regions. Also medics and colleagues from Lithuania and Estonia have joined the rally.
The protesters are holding posters, informing about different problems in the sectors and calls for action - low wages, excessive work load, politicians and their decisions.
Representatives from Latvia's regional education establishments surveyed by LETA said that they also participate in the rally to protest against optimization of school network in regions.
The rally starts a three-day strike in education establishments. LIZDA does not exclude a possibility to extend the strike if the government does not act accordingly in the coming days to meet all strike demands.