Up to 100,000 people turned out to march in Warsaw for protests which lasted for nearly a week in the capital. 14.09.2013. Photo: PAP/Jacek Turczyk
“Today, the government has its final warning,” declared Jan Guz, leader of the All-Poland Alliance of Trade Unions (OPZZ).
“If it does not draw conclusions, we will block the entire country,” he added.
Besides marching past parliament, unionists submitted a petition at the Presidential Palace (pictured below), calling on President Bronislaw Komorowski to intervene in the matter and “help rebuild social dialogue.”
The original reason for the protests had been prospective reforms to the labour code that allow for so-called 'junk contracts' - temporary contracts suited to casual labour, in which employment rights are limited.
However, ultimately, the unionists invited all groups who felt aggrieved by the government to take part in the demonstrations. Among yesterday's protesters was the club of right wing tabloid Gazeta Polska, a paper noted for exploring conspiracy theories about the 2010 Smolensk air crash.
Besides demanding that the government abandon its policy on junk contracts, the unions also called for the government to repeal the increase of the national retirement age to 67 for both sexes.
Likewise, unionists are demanding the adoption of a law that will create a faster rate of increase for the minimum wage, and the dismissal of Minster of Labour Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz.
The green light for the protests was given in June, following an internal vote held by the three members of the so-called Trilateral Commission: the All-Poland Alliance of Trade Unions (OPZZ), the Solidarity Trade Union and the Forum of Trade Unions.
On Thursday, Minster Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz called on the trio to return to debate with the government within the framework of the Trilateral Commission, arguing that the unionists had walked away from the table.
The unionists responded that such debates could only be continued on the basis of “trust.”
On Saturday, Solidarity leader Piotr Duda said that the four-day protests “were just the beginning of our journey.
“We should start collecting signatures calling for the dissolution of parliament, because they [the government] are beyond coming up with anything new,” he said. (nh)
Union leaders Tadeusz Majchrowicz (2L), Andrzej Radzikowski (3L), and Zygmunt Mierzejewski (L) file a petition for President Komorowski during a meeting with State Secretary Sławomir Rybicki, Warsaw, 14.09.2013. Photo: PAP/Jacek Turczyk