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Poland – Unions strike against temporary contracts and employment conditions

11 September 2013

Poland's three largest trade unions - Solidarity, the All-Poland Alliance of Trade Unions (OPZZ), and the Trade Unions' Forum will begin a four-day demonstration in Warsaw today in protest against the government’s labour market policy, according to the Warsaw Voice.

The three trade unions are demanding that the government withdraws from the Polish lower house (Sejm), a draft proposal on a flexible working time. Something,the unions believe is ‘scandalous’ and will not help increase employment.

Unions oppose what they call “junk” employment contracts, temporary contracts suited to casual labour, which limit employment rights. They are also calling for a higher minimum wage. The unions want more support for certain types of industry, and improvements to the healthcare system. In addition, they are also protesting against the increase of the retirement age to 67 for both sexes and want obligatory nationwide referendums on policies once 500,000 signatures have been collected.

On the first day of the protest, September 11, the union members plan to picket outside the buildings of six ministries: economy, labour, treasury, interior, transport and health. Later they will march to the parliament building to stage a joint manifestation there.

On September 12, the protesters plan to set up a tent city outside the parliament building where on September 13 the protests will take up the form of a Speaker’s Corner.

The protests will culminate on Saturday with an expected 100,000 people joining the demonstration in various locations around the Polish capital.

Mayor of Warsaw Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz Tuesday said that ordinary Varsovians” will be most affected by the demonstrations and appealed to the organizers of the protest “not to take Varsovians as hostages of their case”. She said that “the right to a normal life of the residents of the Polish capital should not be limited in the name of the interest of others”.

Head of OPZZ Jan Guz said that the demonstrations will be peaceful. “We will not take anybody as a hostage, but we will try to pursue a case common to all of us, including Varsovians.”

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