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Monday, August 22, 2005

A miner problem

Radio Polonia:
The president's decision to sign the amended pension law has met with harsh criticism on the part of political and economy circles.

The signing of the amendment to the pension law by president Aleksander Kwasniewski will allow miners to retire having worked 25 years underground regardless of their age.

This change had long been fought for by the miners' trade unions and eventually what was to be a peaceful protest in Warsaw last month and turned into regular clashes with the police forced the lower house to vote in favour of the amendment.

Miners claim that the age limit of 65 for retirement was unacceptable as there have been few cases of miners working underground for years living up to 65 - a time when they could retire. Yet it proved that the president's signature under the amended law has not come to the liking of most circles.

Former economy minister Jerzy Hausner called president Kwasniewski's decision a purely political move.

The president chose to support Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz and the SLD party rather than to back a cause that is crucial for the country.

'Indeed, the president's decision was announced to the miners by presidential candidate Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz coming from the same political party as Aleksander Kwasniewski - the SLD. Rafal Antczak of the centre for Economic and Social Research agrees that the signing of the amendment is not economically justified.'

The government's calculations indicate that Poland will have spent over 17 billion euro on miners' pensions by 2020. Deputy social policy minister Agnieszka Chlon-Dominczak is worried that additional expenditures may reach 0.4 per cent of GDP.

'This means that we'll have to look for the lacking funds in areas where expenditures can still be reduced such as funds for research and development or active forms of counteracting unemployment.'

No matter how dangerous and health-ruining the miners' work underground is, it is obvious that their benefits stemming from earlier retirement are only possible at other social groups' expense.

But aren't the miners right? Who lives to 65 when you work in conditions like that?

What really needs to be done, is to reduce the high number working in the mining sector already.

Don't expect that to happen if Cimoszewicz becomes president.


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