The left and the OPZZ passed through the capital during the May Day parade under the slogan “Peace, work, security”. They also submitted petitions to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki with demands from employees, incl. protection of trade unionists against dismissal.
The Sunday parade of trade unionists and the left on the occasion of Labor Day began at 11 in front of the Warsaw headquarters of the OPZZ. Representatives of workers from various industries, not only from Poland, but also from Ukraine, together with the President of the Association of Trade Unions of the Lviv region, Roman Datsko, as well as teams from Paroc and Solaris, who obtained wage increases during strikes, appeared on the spot.
Opening the events, MP Agnieszka Dziemanowicz-Bąk stressed that “trade unions are not supposed to be afraid”. “Relationships are there to fight, and the role of the left is to accompany you in this fight and to stand side by side with you like a fist” – she said.
OPZZ President Andrzej Radzikowski pointed out that his headquarters were calling for an increase in the powers of the Social Dialogue Council and the introduction of changes to the law that would only allow the dismissal of trade unionists after the court verdict, and that the proposal for statutory changes in this regard, at the request of the OPZZ, was submitted to the Sejm by the leftist club. Radzikowski also pointed out that in 2021, 218 people died at work, including victims of disasters at the “Pniówek” and “Zofiówka” coal mines, which was commemorated by the participants with a minute of silence.
Deputy Speaker of the Sejm, Co-Chair of the New Left, Włodzimierz Czarzasty recalled that in August 2021, the Left tabled a motion for a 12 percent raise for public sector employees. “As inflation is now 12%, we have corrected this finding and believe the budget should have 20% increases.” – he underlined.
He added that in September a second indexation of pensions should be introduced at the level of 12%. “We filed a motion such as the left in the Seym,” Czarzasty said. According to him, “inflation is eating away at the 13th pension”.
Paulina Piechna-Więckiewicz, vice-president of Nowa Lewica, drew attention to the situation of young people in the labor market, who have to work on the so-called shoddy contracts, as well as the situation of women who earn 20% less in the same positions as men.
Roman Datsko wished the Poles peace, decent work and a salary. He also pointed out that workers and trade unions are today fighting for a free Ukraine. “Almost everyone civilized stands in solidarity with Ukraine,” he said, pointing out that Poland had accepted 3 million refugees. “Poles opened not only their apartment doors, but also their hearts, and we are grateful to you for that,” he said.
For his part, the leader of the Together party, Adrian Zandberg, spoke of housing problems on the example of Warsaw, where the average worker can dream of his own apartment. He pointed out that investment funds were participating in speculation by buying apartments, which was causing prices per square meter to skyrocket. As he pointed out, the state should step in so that all those who work hard can feel safe and have a roof over their heads.
The participants of the march, led by the orchestra, marched from the OPZZ to the monument of Ignacy Daszyński on Rozdrożu Square with the slogans, among others, “Peace, work, security”, “Housing, work, wages decent” or “Don’t tighten your belt, tighten your fist”.
New Left co-chair, MEP Robert Biedroń, in his speech at the Daszyński monument, underlined the role of trade unions in democracy and also pointed out that Polish women and men work longer hours than workers in other European countries. the European Union. He also called for budget increases. “Today we must not only unfreeze salaries in the budget, but also make sure that it never happens again that someone who works hard for at least eight hours a day is working on a junk contract” – did he declare.
Leszek Miętek, president of the Union of Railway Engineers, called on young people to join forces. “You yourself are doomed, but in trade unions it is a joint organization of people who support each other” – he said. “We are not leaving the injured. We are not leaving the people in need. Only together, working together, can we stand against this great machine of hypocrisy that is trying to turn workers into slaves. in Poland,” he said. Vice-president of the Lewica club, MP Magdalena Biejat, stressed that it was impossible to accept that employees bear the burden of fighting inflation. “They don’t have to and they shouldn’t,” she said.
On the other hand, MP Anna Maria Żukowska expressed the hope that labor rights in the so-called “old European Union” were also respected in Poland. “So that we don’t have to be constantly attacked by neoliberal comments that we want to send back to the Polish People’s Republic,” she said. “There are thriving trade unions in all democratic countries and that is where democracy thrives best” – she stressed.
In the morning, from the de Gaulle roundabout to the Chancellery of the Prime Minister, a march organized by socialist circles, in which, among others, the social activist Piotr Ikonowicz took part. At the rally, he warned of worsening the housing crisis and thus causing “Ukrainianophobia”. He called on the Warsaw authorities to make vacant housing available, and the government to “break the resistance of developers” and build a program of apartment buildings. In the context of work, he stressed that Ukrainian refugees cannot be treated as cheap labour.
Participants in the march shouted anti-capitalist cries, waved red flags and held banners with the slogans: “No more wars and exploitation” or “Ukrainian and Polish workers united – invincible”. At the head of the march was a banner with the slogan “Let’s not be divided” and a picture of two workers. One was white and red, the other was blue and yellow. Some of the participants from the Prime Minister’s Chancellery visited the Russian Embassy to show their solidarity with the Ukrainian nation’s struggle for independence.
Labor Day was also celebrated separately by the Polish Socialist Party. Senate Deputy Speaker Gabriela Morawska-Stanecka, Senator Wojciech Konieczny and MPs Joanna Senyszyn and Andrzej Rozenek commemorated the first bloody demonstration of PPS workers in 1904 (PAP) in Plac Grzybowski.
author: Grzegorz Bruszewski, Agnieszka Ziemska