Police officers, firefighters and border guards rallied outside the Lithuanian parliament in Vilnius, demanding that politicians deliver on their promises to raise officers' salaries. The rally included three salvos from toy artillery which the protesters say were a warning of more serious protests to come.
Protesters who gathered on Tuesday say that, back in 2016, the current government promised to raise officers' salaries by 2020 so that the lowest-paid among them made at least 1,000 euros a month. The promise is nowhere near delivered.
“Many officers make less than 700,” said Vaidas Maziliauskas, a police investigator from Vilnius. Senior officers receive additional bonuses, but that drives up workload to breaking points.
Officers' unions estimate that pay raises next year will require some 20 million euros: 9.8 million for the fire and rescue services, 3.5 million for the police, 6 million for the border guard service, 2.8 million for the environmental protection service.
“It was only a warm-up today,” Vladimir Banel, the head of the Association of Officers' Unions, told LRT TV on Tuesday. “We are planning more protests in the future.”
He told reporters that the sum the officers are asking were the barest minimum they could live with.
“We do realise that other areas [of the public sector] need funding too, so we pared down our demands and say what is absolutely necessary.”
The Lithuanian parliament is currently debating next year's government budget bill. The vote is scheduled for December 17.