From British daily The Morning Star:
Latvian teachers stage huge pay protest
Thursday 02 April 2009
OVER 10,000 teachers blocked the streets of Riga on Thursday to protest against government plans to cut funds for education and slash public-sector wages by up to 40 per cent.
Teachers from all over the country gathered for the rally, which was led by Latvian Education and Science Workers Association chairwoman Astrida Harbacevica.
Protesters brandished signs reading: “More financing for education and science,” “Education and science – Latvia’s future” and “Send the ministers to school.”
Protesting teacher Alexander Elsbergs said: “Our government is now reducing our salaries by either 20 or 40 per cent and some of our personnel will be fired.
“They are going to destroy schools in order to tighten their budget,” Mr Elsbergs warned.
The new government is under pressure to rein in spending to meet budget requirements for a 7.5 billion euros ($10bn) bail-out from the International Monetary Fund and other lenders.
The previous administration resigned in February after violent protests in Riga against regressive government reforms.
In neighbouring Lithuania, police officers, firefighters and border guards staged a smaller protest in Vilnius against similar pay and spending cuts announced by the government of Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius.
Around 150 officers led a procession to government buildings, some barefoot to highlight how badly they are being affected by pay cuts.