Latvian police stage pay protest
Latvian police officers demonstrated against low pay and poor working conditions in the capital Riga on Saturday, staging a picket in front of government offices, dpa reported.
The demonstration occurred one day after Latvian Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis announced a year-long pay freeze for public sector employees as part of an austerity package designed to cut government spending.
A week ago, health workers staged a similar protest amid rising dissatisfaction with wages that are failing to keep pace with inflation, against the background of a general economic downturn in Latvia.
Police officer Reinards Gutpelcs told dpa: "We work hard but get very little money. We appreciate the economic situation but there is money there - only not for police officers. Today we get about 400 lats (787 dollars) a month. We need 600 or 700."
"Yesterday I worked 24 hours. I finished at eight o'clock this morning and came here. Tomorrow I will work another 24 hour shift. It's crazy."
Latvian Interior Minister Mareks Seglins, who is responsible for policing, was singled out for particular criticism from marchers. Earlier this week Seglins was quoted saying "There is no question about any wage increases. The question is about how many people will have to be fired."