Budget debates begin amid teachers' protest

Hundreds of increasingly discontent teachers gathered outside the Latvian parliament or Saeima Thursday to demand better pay as lawmakers began to consider next year's budget.

Carrying some highly imaginative banners, the teachers - many of whom set out in the early hours from the regions - blew whistles and attempted to waylay MPs in their demands for more money. 

Saeima Speaker Inara Mūrniece was among those who took time to talk to the teachers.

Meanwhile teachers' union leader Ingrida Mikiško emerged from a meeting with Education Minister Marite Seile saying teachers reserved the right to strike early next year if their demands were not met.

"We have received a promise that the prime minister herself will regularly monitor the development of new [pay] models, and will follow the implementation of this process. We will also be actively engaged," said Mikiško.

Vija Dikule, a teachers' representative from the eastern Latgale district told LTV that at present some qualified teachers were paid barely more than the minumum wage.

Krimuldas pre-school teacher Anita Amoliņa admitted that she was not enthusiastic about taking part in protests but that teachers needed to stay united if they wanted to achieve results.

"I hope that the great men and women listen to this request. Because we are not asking for much," Amoliņa said.

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