Thursday, June 21, 2007


The article below is just a follow up story on yesterday's post concerning protests by Polish nurses. See for further information.

The following comes from Reuters Alert (UK).

Polish miners lend support to nurses' protests

Polish miners raised protest banners on Thursday to support hundreds of nurses who are demonstrating at the prime minister's office for more pay in a growing challenge to the conservative government.

State medical workers say they have been left behind by the rapid rise in salaries for other professions, partly the result of a booming economy since Poland joined the European Union in 2004 and of emigration that has led to a tight labour market.

Hundreds of hospitals have been affected by strikes for six weeks and nurses have been protesting outside Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski's office for the past three days.

Public radio said 1,000 miners, many from southern Poland, were expected to join the protest. At this stage, they are not threatening to go on strike themselves.

"It shows we are not alone and that we have a point," said Barbara Wysocka from a hospital in Gdansk on the Polish coast. "Maybe now that they can see that we are not alone, poor women, they will start listening to us."

Kaczynski has offered pay rises of 15 percent per year over the coming three years, but doctors and nurses say their wages were low to start with and those for other workers are rising faster.

Deputy Health Minister Boleslaw Piecha said the government was ready to talk to the nurses, but only after the departure of four who are occupying one of the rooms in the office building. He also accused the opposition of fanning the protest.

"We have seen more politicians in front of cameras than nurses," Piecha said.

Kaczynski has said he would not deviate from "economic realities" in talks with the nurses. Polish wages rose almost 9 percent year-on-year in May and that has raised expectations that interest rates will go up again soon.

Minutes from the central bank monetary policy council's meeting in May, which were released on Thursday, showed rate-setters saw the labour market as the main risk factor for boosting inflation.

"Living on 800-1,000 zlotys ($280-350) a month is just not enough," Wysocka said, adding she would follow the thousands of Poles who have left for Western Europe in search of better pay if nothing changed.

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