Polish workers rally in 16 cities demanding raises

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May 25, 2011, 7:30 p.m. | World — by Associated Press

Solidarity trade unionists march through downtown Warsaw demanding higher wages and a government cut in the fuel tax, in Warsaw, Poland, Wednesday, May 25, 2011.
© AP

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish trade union members and workers protested Wednesday across the country demanding wage hikes and a government cut in the fuel tax. Meanwhile, new government statistics showed that unemployment in Poland dropped to 12.6 percent in April from 13.1 percent the previous month as a result of seasonal jobs in the construction, agriculture, forestry and tourism sectors.

Two decades after the fall of communism, Poland's economy is growing at a brisk pace of about 4 percent this year.

Nonetheless, wages remain low for many workers, especially those with state jobs, and many are suffering from a recent rise in fuel and food prices.

In the southern mining center of Katowice, some 3,000 people gathered in front of a regional authorities' office building.

They carried portraits of Prime Minister Donald Tusk with inscriptions accusing him of lying to the people about the good state of the economy.

They left a letter to Tusk in which they complained of high unemployment and prices, poverty and job insecurity.

In Warsaw, hundreds of labor union members and their supporters marched from the Treasury Ministry toward a regional governor's office where they submitted a petition with their demands of higher wages and job security.

Many other cities across Poland saw similar protests of hundreds of people.

The rallies in 16 cities were organized by the Solidarity trade union, which evolved from a national freedom movement under Lech Walesa's leadership in the 1980s that helped bring down communism.

Poland will hold parliamentary elections in the fall. Opinion polls show Tusk's governing Civic Platform, a pro-market party, to be the favorite.
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