Medics protest over pay in Rīga

Workers in the healthcare and social care sector demonstrated peacefully outside the Health Ministry building in Rīga July 27, threatening further industrial action unless promises on pay and conditions are kept.

Members of the Latvian Health and Social Care Workers' Union (LVSADA) say promised pay rises have not been implemented.

Around 200 people participated in the picket according to Latvian Radio. The protest was attended by doctors, emergency medical teams, paramedics, and nurses, who came together to express dissatisfaction with their current salary system. 

Doctors are demanding that a 10% increase in their salary, which was supposed to be introduced July 1, be implemented. However, according to the Ministry of Health, the required wage level has indeed been introduced. Even among the doctors themselves, there is no unanimous opinion, for example, the Association of Junior Doctors decided not to support the strike.

Several protesters explained to Latvian Radio that they feel disappointed in the ministry, and also feel undervalued.

Those gathered were accompanied by various posters with slogans such as "Government, it's not good!", "Promises until the elections, amnesia after the elections" as well as "Government, love medics because you won't be healthy forever!"

State Secretary of the Ministry of Health Indra Dreika came out to talk to the protesters, however, soon the doctors called on her to go back inside.  After a few speeches, protestors dispersed.

LVSADA head Valdis Keris promised that an announced strike will go ahead on September 27 and 28. 

"Unfortunately, the Ministry of Health did not listen to what we were saying. They came to us again with empty words. The time for empty words is over. Either the demands of the strike will be met or there will be the next strike – much more serious than this one, and we will start preparing even today," Keris said.

The State Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Indra Dreika, claimed that the salaries of doctors have already been doubled in recent years, once Covid-19 bonuses are taken into account. The average salary of a doctor is currently 3,131 euros per month, the salary of nurses is 1,866 euros, and the average salary of medical and support persons is 1,222 euros, she said.

On August 23 last year, LVSADA submitted two demands to the Ministry of Health – a 5% increase in average pay for non-medical support staff each year until 2024 and a second requirement to raise the average salary for medical personnel by 10% every year until 2024.

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