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Unions strike in Poland against government policy

28 March, 2013Up to 100,000 workers in the industrial Silesia region of Poland went on strike in the morning of 26 March in protest over the government's labour, health and education policies.

The general strike was organised by Solidarity, Forum Zwiazkow Zawodowych, OPZZ and August 80 against proposed changes to the labour code, which would extend the use of 'junk' employment contracts and which limit employment rights and reduce overtime payments, and against the government's health policy and changes to the education system.

The protest action was taken by a coalition of trade unions, including affiliates of IndustriALL Global Union, and joined by workers from the rail, mining, metallurgical and energy sectors as well as teachers and public health service employees. Workers at steel mills, mines and electricity plants downed tools till 10am, with the transport sector paralysed for two hours from 8am.

The protest was called after tripartite talks between unions, employers and government on a number of burning labour and social-related problems failed to produce concrete results in January and February.

The demands of the protesting groups are:

  • a system of protection for businesses who do not lay off workers when they reduce their production;
  • compensation for businesses which will be affected by additional taxes because of the adoption by the European Union of its climate package;
  • legal limitation of precarious contracts;
  • liquidation of the National Health Fund and its replacement by regional funds;
  • maintenance of early retirement for workers engaged in arduous work.
  • a stop to liquidating schools and to stop the transfer the financial matters of public education to the local governments.