Trade unions warn of new protests over healthcare funding

Latvia's trade unions have announced plans to protest, asking the state to increase healthcare expenditures, leaders of trade unions and healthcare organizations told the press Monday. 

There are still many unknowns about the planned action--like when and how the protests are to take place--however, said Pēteris Krīgers, head of the Latvian Free Trade Unions' Association, the protests will not be considered strikes as every Latvian will be invited to participate in addition to healthcare specialists.

Krīgers took an alarming tone, saying that Latvia's future is in danger due to healthcare being sidelined in the budget.

"We are turning into a country with a lot of empty territory," said Krīgers, claiming that people are leaving regions of Latvia--sometimes departing to foreign countries--due to lack of adequate healthcare. Furthermore, healthcare shortcomings contribute to increased mortality rates, loss of employment and the number of disabled people.

While Health Care Workers Union head Valdis Keris said that if the protests won't make the government change its course, medics and trade unions will ask for the Latvian parliament to be dissolved.

Healthcare workers staged a protest by the Saeima in early November last year, demanding higher wages and more funding for the industry. 

Latvia recently increased healthcare workers' salaries by an average of 7%.

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