WARSAW (Reuters) - More than 20,000 policemen, firemen, border and prison guards gathered on Tuesday in Warsaw to decry “outrageous” working conditions and demand pay rises, in what they described as the biggest protest in Polish police history.
The protest came just two weeks after thousands of union members walked the capital’s streets also demanding pay rises as the economy is booming, companies struggle to find workers, and the government spends billions on social programs.
There are almost 100,000 policemen in Poland. An experienced one earns the equivalent of around 1,000 euros a month, while in junior positions salaries are less than half that, according to the police website.
“Work conditions at uniformed services are outrageous. Young people who join the forces resign once they receive their first salary,” Slawomir Koniuszy, one of the police union leaders told protesters from the roof of a black van.
Thousands of protesters wearing uniforms and reflective vests, making noise with whistles and plastic horns marched through the main Warsaw alley from the old town, heading to the Prime Minister’s office.
They briefly stopped at the presidential palace where a presidential official accepted their list of demands.
“Many of the demands that the social side presents, I consider to be justified... The state must take care of officers, their pension and social security,” interior minister Joachim Brudzinski told public radio on Tuesday.
Reporting by Marcin Goclowski and Karol Witenberg