RIGA - Public sector workers have expressed their outrage at what they see as discriminatory bonuses handed out to some employees despite a government resolution to freeze all year end bonuses.
Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis signed a resolution at the end of October calling for the end of yearly bonuses for government workers by Nov. 1. The document also described the reasoning and the plan for freezing the bonuses to save government funds and cut back on budget spending.
On Nov. 5, all state police agencies received the notice from Aldis Lieljuksis, the State Police Chief.
As the news traveled through the government, however, the fact that some groups did in fact receive the bonuses came to light. The Finance Ministry and the State Revenue Service received their yearly bonuses just before the cutoff date, while other workers, among them the police, did not.
The NPA (Independent Police Union) sees this as the government allowing one category of workers (national police workers and employees) to be discriminated against by the Interior Ministry.
"We see this situation as something that shouldn't be allowed and shows discrimination among several of the service officers," Armands Augustans, head of the Independent Police Union told TBT.
However, according to the Interior Ministry, the NPA is mistaken as they have nothing to do with the paying of these bonuses.
"The Interior Ministry has never paid the bonuses for the Finance Ministry or the State Revenue Service. The two are separate governmental departments who have their own budget and make their own decisions on yearly bonuses," Laura Karnite of the Interior Ministry told The Baltic Times
The situation with the Finance Ministry and the State Revenue Service is that Prime Minster Ivars Godmanis announced that as of Nov. 1, no more bonuses would be paid. Both the Finance Ministry and the State Revenue Service paid their employees their bonuses right before this deadline.
However, the NPA thinks that this is still some form of discrimination against police.
"The trade union will certainly investigate this situation and will strongly follow along with the details in order to be noticed," Augustans said.
"If there are established offenses, the trade union will demand the start of disciplinary action," he said.
The Interior Ministry received a letter informing them of the Prime Minister's order. The letter contained information outlining the plan that bonuses will be frozen as of Nov. 1, 2008, for "officers and workers."
Along with that, the Interior Ministry said that the bonus order refers only to those ministry workers who support the bonus resolution mentioned in the regulation but does not refer to those employees with specialized service duties and ranks.
Godmanis's decision came in response to a need for the government to cut back on spending in the face of decreased tax revenues.
On Sept. 4, Godmanis and the Cabinet resolved to freeze all public sector wages until 2009 and cut ministry spending by 10 percent.