Unionists protest pension reforms, coalition partners negotiate
March 27, 2012
Protestors outside PM's Office
Several hundred Solidarity trade union members Monday protested outside the prime minister’s office in Warsaw against government plans to reform the pension system that have caused widespread anger and strained the country’s ruling coalition.
Trade unionists said they would continue their protest all week against plans to raise the retirement age for both men and women to 67, adding that on Wednesday they would demonstrate outside the Polish parliament buildings.
Deputies are expected to vote Friday on whether a national referendum should be held on the planned changes to the pension system, a ballot that has been demanded by the Solidarity union.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to end deadlock within the coalition government over the reforms, Prime Minster Donald Tusk, head of the ruling Civic Platform party (PO), Monday held five hours of talks with deputy Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak, leader of the Polish People’s Party (PSL), the junior partner in the government.
Increasing the age at which Poles retire is a policy priority for Tusk, who says the move is inescapable, even if painful. But the PSL has been resistant, sparking tension that prompted observers to question whether the ruling coalition would survive.
In a sign that the two parties may be able to hammer out a compromise, Pawlak told reporters Monday that the government should offer partial pensions for those wanting to retire at 62, set at 80% of the full amount.
Rafal Grupinski, head of the PO’s parliamentary caucus, told the PAP news agency that his party wanted to meet PSL half way and was arguing for 50% of the full amount.