Government policy opponents mount "Wake up, Poland!" march
October 1, 2012
Tens of thousands of Poles from across the country protested against the lack of social dialogue, retirement age increase as well as in defense of civic freedoms and pluralism in the media during Saturday "Wake up, Poland!" march through the Polish capital of Warsaw.
The demonstration was organized by the main opposition right-wing party Law and Justice (PiS) in cooperation with NSZZ Solidarnosc trade union and sympathizers ultra-conservative Catholic media broadcasters Radio Maryja and Trwam Television (recently refused to be included in a nationwide digital broadcast package by the National Broadcasting Council).
"Our presence here is a sign of opposition to the discrimination against Catholic media and TV Trwam," Zbigniew Ziobro, a leading conservative politician, told protesters.
Before the protesters embarked on their march along Warsaw streets a holy mass for them was said by Radio Maryja station director Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, who thanked PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski and Solidarity head Piotr Duda for supporting efforts to place Trwam television on the digital platform.
The march passed in a peaceful way.Banners demanded more generous terms for pensioners and a broadcast license for a television station run by a conservative Catholic cleric who opposes the government. The protesters blew horns, sang patriotic and religious songs, waved red and white Polish flags and carried signs saying, "We don‘t want to work until death."
Duda recalled that trade unionists had collected more than 2 million signatures under a motion for a referendum on raising the retirement age, an initiative ignored by the government.
The pension reform will raise the retirement age gradually from the current 65 years for men and 60 for women to 67 for both, starting next year. Prime Minister Donald Tusk had said the reform was necessary to secure pensions for future retirees.
Addressing the crowd Kaczynski said it was time for change.
"Today, we need renewal, and above all, moral renewal," he said. "Poles are exploited by those who manipulate the people, and who have no respect for the law. Democracy is becoming fictional," he added.
Kaczynski said ordinary Poles were no longer prepared to give Tusk's government, in its second term, the benefit of the doubt. "We will prevail because Poland has woken up," Kaczynski told the crowd.
Today PiS will present its candidate for a constructive no-confidence vote, Kaczynski said during his party convention on Saturday.