Latvian medics to go ahead with protest after last-minute talks with government fail

Source: Xinhua| 2019-11-06 00:46:06|Editor: yan
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RIGA, Nov. 5 (Xinhua) -- Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins and Health Minister Ilze Vinkel met with representatives of medics' organizations on Tuesday in a last-ditch attempt to negotiate a compromise solution and avert the major protest which healthcare employees are planning to stage on Thursday, local media reported.

Karins told reporters after the talks with the medics that the government even offered to postpone the opening of an embassy in Australia in order to increase the allocation for medics' pay rises by 18 million euros (19.9 million U.S. dollars) to 60 million euros next year. The prime minister added that the financing would not be ensured by raising taxes.

Initially, the government had promised to increase the healthcare employees' salaries by 20 percent in 2020, which would cost the government 120 million euros. The 60 million euros allocation means that the medics' salaries could be increased by only 10 percent next year.

A solution has not been found and the healthcare employees are going ahead with their protest, Karlis Racenis, head of the Latvian Junior Doctors Association, told reporters after the meeting with the government officials.

Racenis said that the government had offered a compromise but the medics were not ready to accept it as they insist on the 20-percent pay increase as stipulated by law.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Vinkele admitted that in this situation it would be necessary to consider amendments to the healthcare financing law once the promised 20-percent pay increase to medics cannot be ensured.

In mid-October, the Latvian trade union of medics announced sweeping protests over insufficient funding allocated to the health sector in the Baltic country's 2020 budget.

The multistage protests planned by the Trade Union of Health and Social Care Employees will include a warning strike, a protest march in Riga and filing a formal complaint with the Constitutional Court.

The one-day warning strike -- A Day Without a Doctor -- will be held on Nov. 7. Physicians and medical nurses are going to take an unpaid one-day leave of absence to take part in the protest, which will leave many hospitals and outpatient institutions without medical staff for one day. (1 euro=1.11 U.S. dollars)