March Organized by Trade Unions Draws Over 100,000 in Warsaw

In one of the largest demonstrations the Polish capital has seen in years, tens of thousands of Poles marched through Warsaw Saturday — the grande finale of four days of protests against unemployment.

At least 100,000 people joined the march, led by three trade union associations, to demand more jobs and a higher minimum wages, also calling for a repeal of a law that raises the retirement age from 65 to 67. Many also blamed Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk's administration for the recent economic slowdown, calling on him to resign.

Banners were held saying, "Part-time job, full-time exploitation" and "Tusk's government Must Go".

Unions also opposed a new law which gives employers more power in deciding the working hours of their employees.

"We're becoming slaves in our own country," said the leader of the right-of-centre Solidarity Union.

"The government gets its last warning today. If it draws no conclusions, we will block the whole country, all roads and highways," echoed a leader of the OPZZ union.

The protests had originally kicked off on Wednesday in front of the main ministries; the original reason for the protests had been to call for a reform of legislation that allows the use of temporary contracts — dubbed "junk contracts"— in which employment rights are limited. But the recent economic ebb has Tusk's approval ratings at an all-time low, and opinion polls are showing that his party has lost points to the opposition party.

In spite of this, Poland is actually the only country in the European Union to have avoided a full-on recession since the economic crisis started.

[Image: Wlodi via Flickr]