Tens of thousands of workers from across Poland noisily demonstrated outside parliament in Warsaw on Friday against plans to raise the retirement age to 67.
The protesters blew horns and waved the white-and-red banners of the Solidarity trade union as MPs debated a motion signed by 1.4 million people to hold a referendum on the pensions cut.
The law currently allows women to retire at age 60 and men at 65, but Prime Minister Donald Tusk wants to raise the retirement age to 67 for all Poles purportedly to lower Poland's government deficit to below the arbitrary European Union limit of 3 per cent of GDP this year.
Zory coal miner Arkadiusz Maziar said: "People are not strong enough to work as long as machines, 48 years, it is physically impossible.
"Tusk is an office clerk and he will never understand this. I am here to defend the people," Mr Maziar said.
The unions are enraged by a new agreement that the ruling coalition parties reached on Thursday which would allow people to go into partial retirement earlier - but with lowered monthly payments for the rest of their lives.
Solidarity president Piotr Duda branded the plan a choice between "working until death or quickly dying of hunger."
He warned that the rally "is just a prelude to what will happen" if MPs refuse to hold a referendum on the regressive pensions reform.