Thousands protest pensions, job security, safety in Poland

Published: Tuesday, March 26 2013 8:25 p.m. MDT

WARSAW, Poland — Thousands of workers held work stoppages in Poland's southern industrial region on Tuesday to demand more job security, higher pensions and government protection for coal mines.

The four-hour protests in the Silesia region were led by the Solidarity trade union. The protesters called for the government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk to improve the labor code, raise minimum guaranteed wages and restructure the strapped and inefficient health care system.

The stoppages involved coal mines, local railways and some schools. In a sign of support, some hospitals and city transport flew Solidarity flags. Union members also held support actions in the cradle of Solidarity, Gdansk, and some other cities across Poland.

Responding to the actions, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said no protest should be ignored, but warned that the demands could act against people seeking jobs.

He also denied accusations that the government refused to discuss the issue with trade unions. He said that Solidarity leader Piotr Duda missed four out of the recent eight regular meetings among the government, employees and unions.

Earlier, Economy Minister Janusz Piechocinski said that in the talks, the unions had pressed unacceptable demands that would burden the already tight state budget.

— Associated Press

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