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Poland to react 'urgently' to concerns of gender discrimination: gov't official

PR dla Zagranicy
Victoria Bieniek 09.08.2017 09:00
Poland's prime minister has told the social policy minister to "urgently" respond to European Commission concerns that Poland's new retirement ages break EU gender equality laws, a government spokesman has said.
Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło. Photo: premier.gov.plPolish Prime Minister Beata Szydło. Photo: premier.gov.pl

The spokesman, Rafał Bochenek, said Prime Minister Beata Szydło is open to dialogue with the European Union.

“But the fact that criticism of the lowered statutory retirement age of Poles was in the context of rule-of-law discussions was surprising,” Bochenek said.

He added that the European Union did not react when, in 2016, Szydło's government reversed the previous government's decision to increase to retirement age to 67, up from 65 for men and 60 for women, despite protests in Poland.

He also said the government's opinion was that a seven-year increase in the retirement age for women was a social injustice.

Concerns over different retirement ages were first raised in Brussels amid a recent row over planned changes to the Polish justice system, which reignited a year-long dispute over the rule of law in Poland.

The government passed three bills to overhaul a number of judicial bodies, including the Supreme Court. Two of the bills were vetoed by the Polish president.

The Supreme Court reform bill included lowering the retirement age of judges to 65 for men and 60 for women, down from 67 for all, which the European Commission said was discriminatory.

Poland's Solidarity trade union then asked the commission whether it was only discrimination in the case of judges.

Polish press agency PAP said on Tuesday that Europe's gender equality and labour commissioners sent a letter to Poland's labour and social policy minister to start a dialogue with Poland about its varied retirement ages for men and women.

Poland’s Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy said the introduction of different retirement ages for men and women is "lawful and in line with social expectations as well as with Polish tradition,” while Bochenek said Poland had varying retirement ages for the sexes when it joined the European Union in 2004, and today a number of European Union countries do as well.

But a European Commission spokeswoman last week said Poland's move was a step backwards. (vb/pk)

Source: PAP

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