Unions reject round table with government

2019-04-23 21:28 update: 2019-04-27, 13:56
Photo: PAP/Marcin Obara
Photo: PAP/Marcin Obara
The Polish Teachers' Union (ZNP) and the Trade Union Forum (FZZ), organisers of Poland's ongoing national teacher strike, have refused to take part in Friday-scheduled round table talks with the government, Social Dialogue Council head Dorota Gardias informed on Tuesday.

Earlier on Tuesday the Social Dialogue Council Presidium met to discuss the strike. Attending among others were Family, Labour and Social Policy Minister Elżbieta Rafalska, Deputy Education Minister Maciej Kopeć, presidential aide Agnieszka Lenartowicz-Łysik, ZNP head Sławomir Broniarz, the Solidarity Union's education branch steward Ryszard Proksa and delegates representing the striking teachers.

In a statement after the meeting the participants pointed out that they were ready to hold the round table talks, but not at Warsaw's National Stadium as proposed by the prime minister.

"We have a situation where in place of a serious, down-to-earth debate about teacher demands we have a stadium rally. This format will in no way help resolve education problems," the statement read. The statement authors further noted that the Social Dialogue Council was the proper place for a round table on education and not the National Stadium, and stressed that the talks will have sense only after the government has met the strikers' demands.

According to Broniarz, the education round table was a good idea but ought to be hosted by the Social Dialogue Council under the president's patronage.

Rafalska voiced regret over the unions' withdrawal from the talks, and said this showed the union side's "standoffishness". According to Rafalska the unions were too hasty in their certainty that the talks will fail, she also stressed that she was always in favour of openness and the will to negotiate.

"This seems a bit standoffish to me. You can't just preassume that something won't work, that it is ill-intended. I always prefer to present a more open stance, to sit down at the table and talk," Rafalska said.

Poland's teachers launched a nationwide strike on April 8 after the government failed to meet their demands of an immediate PLN 1,000 (EUR 233) gross raise and changes in working conditions. The protesters have since modified their demands to a 30-percent wage raise in two tranches, both payable this year. The government says the budget cannot afford such a big raise at the moment, and suggests incremental increases spread out over a longer period of time. (PAP)