Millennium Post

Anti-govt protest in Poland against labour law reforms

Tens of thousands of Polish trade unionists kicked off a march through the capital on Saturday in the finale of a four-day protest against the unpopular and increasingly fragile centre-right government.

The protest reflects widespread public gloom over this year's sharp economic slowdown in Poland, which has been dragged down by the eurozone crisis.

The disillusionment has plunged the coalition government's popularity to its lowest level since Prime Minister Donald Tusk took office in 2007.
Marek Lewandowski, spokesman for the Polish trade union federation Solidarity, said,'We want the departure of Donald Tusk. This is the only way to change social policy in Poland.'

Since dawn, hundreds of buses with protesters have descended on Warsaw. Lewandowski said the right-of-centre Solidarity was expecting 100,000 of its members to join the protest, with two other unions also expected on the streets Saturday. They have the support of a majority of Poles, according to an opinion poll carried out by MillwardBrown for the Fakty news programme on Tuesday. While the unionists have a long litany of grievances, their anger is centred on recent labour and pension changes.

'We want pensions at the age of 65 as before and not at the age of 67 as Tusk's reform would have it. We want better social policy and guarantees for employees,' Lewandowski said.

The protesters began their action on Wednesday, gathering in front of the main ministries before marching towards parliament to the sound of drums, whistles and sirens. The union is also calling for a higher minimum wage and improved job security particularly for young people in the EU member country.

'I want an end to temporary contracts,' said Zdzislaw Urabanek, a chemical plant worker from the eastern town of Pulawy,' the 60-year-old Solidarity member said.
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