Will the Constitutional Tribunal revise the regulations on miners’ pensions?

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The outgoing government has appealed to the Constitutional Tribunal to decide on the controversial part of the law on retirement and incapacity pensions granted by the Social Security Fund (Fundusz Ubezpieczeń Społecznych, FUS) concerning the miners’ pensions, which secures for the miners the right to retirement after 25 years of underground work independently of age. It is possible, however, that the new government - coming from the political opposition - will withdraw the above proposal.

The amendment to the law on old age and disability pensions from the Social Security Fund (Fundusz Ubezpieczeń Społecznych, FUS) that grants the miners the right to retirement after 25 years of underground work independently of age (and for other workers performing work detrimental to health - the right to earlier retirement until the end of 2007) which was adopted by the former Sejm in July 2005 under the pressure of demonstrations organized by miners’ trade unions in front of the parliament (PL0508101N) arouses great controversies. The government of Marek Belka strongly criticized the above amendment, arguing that it was a departure from a uniform pensions system; likewise, the employers organizations’ reactions were highly unfavourable. However, against the hopes of the opponents of the new regulations, the President Aleksander Kwaśniewski (whose successor, Lech Kaczyński, has just been elected for the office in the second round of elections) decided to endorse the amendment, which secured for the miners the desired privileges.

After the defeat of its government in October parliamentary elections, as was expected by the polls’ estimates, the cabinet of Marek Belka handed in their resignation. One of the last decisions of the outgoing government concerned the controversial issue of the miners’ pensions. The government decided to appeal to the Constitutional Tribunal to verify the compatibility of the contentious regulations with the Constitution.

However, it is possible that the motion that was proposed on 25th October will be finally withdrawn as, due to its relations with the Independent and Self-Governing Trade Union Solidarnosc (Niezależny Samorządny Związek Zawodowy Solidarność, NSZZ Solidarność) the Law and Justice Party (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, PiS) - at present, the major force in the Parliament and the hard core of the new government of Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz - may make concessions to the trade union and not insist on the recognition of the controversial regulations as incompatible with the Constitution. The above scenario appears as quite likely as the trade unions (both NSZZ Solidarity and the All-Poland Alliance of Trade Unions (Ogólnopolskie Porozumienie Związków Zawodowych, OPZZ)) expressed their outrage over the complaint of the outgoing Belka’s government about the incompatibility of the regulations concerning the miners’ pensions with the Constitution and appealed to the new Prime Minister to withdraw the motion. The newly appointed Prime Minister Marcinkiewicz has announced that he will refrain from taking any measures concerning the miners’ pensions until the new cabinet is formed. On the other hand, the trade unions have warned the government that in case of the rejection of their appeals, they are ready to undertake further retaliatory actions aimed at the defence of threatened employee privileges.

This information is made available through the European Industrial Relations Observatory (EIRO), as a service to users of the EIROnline database. EIRO is a project of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. However, this information has been neither edited nor approved by the Foundation, which means that it is not responsible for its content and accuracy. This is the responsibility of the EIRO national centre that originated/provided the information. For details see the "About this record" information in this record.

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