Latvian health workers strike over pay

BBC News, Thursday 18 July 2002, 14:45 GMT 15:45 UK

Thousands of health workers in Latvia are taking part in a 24-hour strike over pay and what they regard as the low level of state spending on the health service.

This is their second stoppage since June, and more are planned.

Several hundred of the strikers demonstrated outside the main government building in the capital, Riga, sounding ambulance sirens and waving banners with slogans such as “We and our patients want to live!”

The government has said it intends to raise wages in October.

It has also confirmed that it spends about 3.4% of Latvia's gross domestic product on health care, compared to about 7% in many western European countries.