Russian trade unions call strike to protest low wages

Russian trade unions called for a one-day strike Wednesday by public sector workers to protest what they say is a desperate need for substantial wage increases.

In the Russian Far Eastern cities of Vladivostok and Khabarovsk, several thousand teachers and others rallied in central squares, NTV reported. Some held signs reading "Teachers the Last Heroes?"

Many public sector workers say they are barely able to survive on their wages, even as strong economic growth in recent years has pushed up prices. Strike organizers hope that hundreds of thousands will participate in demonstrations across Russia.

Physics teacher Lyubov Baranova, protesting in Vladivostock, said that pensions were currently lower than the charges for municipal services. "Therefore what will the pensioners live on?"

The government has called for increasing education and health care spending in an effort to quell dissatisfaction stemming in part from earlier reforms designed to streamline parts of Russia's social security system.

With record-high world oil prices fattening Russia's rainy-day budget fund, pressure has grown on lawmakers and government ministers to pay for new programs, such as infrastructure projects and wage hikes, reports the AP.


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