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Sejm rejects referendum on retirement age hike

The lower house of Polish Parliament - Sejm rejected on Friday, after a long and heated debate, a citizens’ motion for a national referendum on a government’s plan to raise the retirement age to 67 for both sexes in a 180 to 233 vote with 42 abstentions.


The ruling center-right Civic Platform (PO) and its junior coalition partner agrarian Polish People’s Party (PSL) voted to reject the motion.


Poland's right-wing opposition parties Law and Justice (PiS), Solidary Poland (SP) and left-wing Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) voted in support of the motion while the opposition leftist-liberal party Palikot Movement (RP) abstained from vote, effectively supporting the ruling coalition in rejecting the motion.


The referendum, filed by the Solidarity trade union, had earlier gathered 1.4 million signatures. “No such initiative has had such high support since a protest against Communism organized by Solidarity in 1980, Piotr Duda, head of the Solidarity trade union said in the Sejm.

With all due respect for the people who gathered signatures, the idea of a referendum is harmful for Poland's interest, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Thursday.

While the Sejm voted the motion some 15,000 of trade unionists from across Poland were protesting against the unpopular proposal outside the parliament building. Protesters carrying Solidarity white-and-red banners were blowing horns, seting off petards and burning tires.

After days of difficult talks the ruling coalition had reached an agreement on March 29 on the retirement age hike, adding an early retirement option for women at age 62 and men at 65 but with reduced monthly pay-outs for the rest of their lives.

But Solidarity union members rejected the compromise, pointing out Poles already have the second longest working week in the world. Duda called the government agreement a "fraud and a rotten compromise."

The plan gives Poles the choice of "either working until death or quickly dying of hunger," Duda also said.
The Polish law currently allows women to retire at age 60 and men at 65. Recent polls show that some 84 percent of the Polish population opposes the plan to increase the retirement age.

source: warsawvoice.pl

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