1,000 Latvian teachers protest against low wages

About 1,000 public school teachers demonstrated outside the Latvian Education Ministry on Tuesday, demanding higher wages.

Carrying signs reading "We want to live, not survive," the protesters jeered Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis and Education Minister Ina Druviete when they came out to address the crowd.

"I promise that the government will fulfill its commitments, but I cannot promise you anything more than that," Kalvitis said.

The Latvian Teachers Union is angry that Kalvitis' government approved only two monthly wage increases of 20 lats (Ђ28.45; US$35.78) next year, in January and September. Instead, the union wants a 60 lat (Ђ85.35; US$107.34) raise in January.

Union leader Astrida Harbacevica would not rule out the possibility of a strike if the government did not compromise on the issue.

But Kalvitis said his government had no intention to change the planned pay increases.

Teachers in Latvia, the European Union's poorest country, make an average monthly salary of 123 lats (Ђ175; US$220), according to the Teachers Union. The minimum subsistence level in Latvia is 90 lats per month (Ђ128; US$161).

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