Teachers' strike set to go ahead if wages don't rise

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The Latvian Education and Science Workers' Union (LIZDA) does not intend to abandon its intention to conduct a strike, set to start on April 24, LIZDA's head told Latvian Radio on Monday. Meanwhile the government is planning to adopt the salary-increase plan on Friday, Latvian Television reported on April 17.

After meeting with the members of the United List Saeima faction on Monday, the leader of LIZDA, Inga Vanaga, expressed her commitment to holding a protest event next week and then a strike. For the union, the offers made so far by the government are not acceptable.

“We need amendments to the Cabinet rules as proof of compliance with the strike agreement. A Cabinet order is not good enough, because on that basis no one raises wages or balances,” said Vanaga. As reported earlier, Vanaga said Monday morning that the information provided by government representatives to the union on compliance with the strike requirements was not satisfactory in substance, as many objections from LIZDA and other industry organizations have not been taken into account.

After an hours-long conversation, the party association United List announced it was ready to help the union achieve the requirements, but "doesn't promise it to succeed". Neither the Ministry of Education and Science nor the Ministry of Finance is under the responsibility of the United List, but the party "feels solidarity with the industry and will therefore call on the coalition to call an extraordinary meeting of the government and at least to approve the timetable for raising wages currently proposed", said United List's representative Edgars Tavars.

If the requirements are met, there will be no legal basis for the strike, but the head of LIZDA Vanaga said that the protest march on April 24, accompanied by medical workers, will be held in any event.

Following a meeting of the governing parties on Monday, Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš (New Unity) stated that on Friday, April 21, an emergency meeting of the government is scheduled to approve Cabinet regulations on how teacher pay will be raised.

“I think this is a very good message for all Latvian educators. We have agreed today on this clear schedule for the increase in teacher pay, which we are planning to adopt tomorrow in the government and adopt on Friday the specific Cabinet rule. In my understanding, when these two are accepted, all the issues would be not only addressed but also resolved,” the Prime Minister said.

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