Polish organisations protest crackdown on social dialogue

The leader of the Polish Law and Justice (PiS) rulling party Jaroslaw Kaczynski (L) and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki (R) during the parliamentary debate on the changes to the statutes regarding the organisation in Sejm (lower house) sittings during epidemics and states of emergency in Warsaw, Poland, 26 March 2020. [LESZEK SZYMANSKI /EPA/EFE]

Polish employer’s organisations and trade unions protested on Sunday (29 March) against what they called an attack by the authorities on the independence of the country’s Social Dialogue Council and the autonomy of social partner organisations, under the disguise of measures to combat COVID-19.

According to eight Polish employer’s and trade unions organisations, new legislation on combating COVID-19, adopted on Sunday by the Polish Sejm [Parliament], contains a provision authorizing the prime minister to dismiss members of the Social Dialogue Council during the period of the state of epidemiological emergency.

The social partners strongly protest against what they call interference in the independence of this most important social dialogue institution in Poland.

They claim that what is at stake is the very foundation of social dialogue, guaranteed not only in the Act adopted in Poland in 2015 but also in international documents, including the Constitution of the International Labor Organization and the Treaties of the European Union.

The new authority granted to the prime minister is an attack on the independence of trade union organisations and employers’ organisations, the social partners claim, calling the development “scandalous”.

“We would like to remind that social dialogue is one of the foundations of Polish and European democracy, and the independence of trade unions and employers’ organizations and their statutory bodies from government administration has never been challenged,” claim the Polish social partners, among which is the iconic trade union Solidarność.

“That is why we expect the prime minister and representatives of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland to make a firm declaration of immediate withdrawal from this regulation,” they said.

Luca Jahier, President of the European Social and Economic Committee, called on Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, to withdraw the legislation.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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