RIGA - A recent survey has revealed that a staggering 73 percent of employees in Latvia have suffered wage cuts since the onset of the crisis. Some 19 percent of employees have seen their wages halved, while the plurality, 20 percent, have accepted 20 percent wage cuts.
The survey was carried out by WorkingDay Latvia and polled a total of 1,219 participants. The company's marketing director, Maris Silinieks, said the survey also suggests that those who said their salaries were halved may have suffered even deeper wage cuts.
With three-fourths of the nation's work force suffering from a decrease in wages, an increasing number of people have sought work outside the country.
Many workers have left Latvia for greener pastures since 2004 's with the highest number of emigrants heading to the U.K. and Ireland. Now, however, some are returning or seeking jobs elsewhere because of the crisis.
Recently, Latvijas Avize daily reported that an increasing number of Latvians working in Spain have been made homeless after being cheated by employers or fraudulent employment agencies.
Representative Kitija Kupse of the Latvian Embassy in Spain stated that she was confused as to why Latvians accept these offers for work, when Spain has a 17.4 percent unemployment rate and has little legitimate work to offer.
"The principal task now is to restore people's trust in the state and to make people truly interested in the development of their country, so that they would want to work and live in Latvia," said parliamentary speaker Gundars Daudze at a recent parliament session.
The Saeima (Latvian parliament) will be reviewing budget amendments that will have an impact on all Latvians, said Daudze. He also implied there would be more budget cuts in the future.
"If we are able to come to an agreement, understanding that the decisions will be difficult, budget cuts significant and that it will affect all the residents of Latvia," said Daudze.
Despite monumental changes in the state budget and public sector wages, the European Commission has predicted the steepest contraction of GDP in the Baltics for Latvia at 13.1 percent.
The EC also forecasted an increase in unemployment rates and the public deficit.
"The European economy is in the midst of its deepest and most widespread recession in the post-war era. But the ambitious measures taken by governments and central banks in these exceptional circumstances are expected to put a floor under the fall in economic activity this year and enable a recovery next year," said Joaquin Almunia, European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs.