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Polish workers threaten general strike

100,000 march through Warsaw over austerity policies

Over 100,000 Polish trade unionists have marched through Warsaw threatening a general strike to vent their anger at government policies.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk's government is rapidly losing support after raising the retirement age to 67, butchering the pension system and relaxing labour laws to allow longer daily and weekly working hours.

Traffic was halted in central Warsaw to allow the demonstrators to march to Castle Square, with banners saying: "We are Coming to Get You," "Tusk's government must go" and individual placards reading: "I am Tusk's slave."

They converged on Warsaw from all over Poland blowing whistles and throwing smoke grenades on the last of four days of a major protest.

Some of the protesters have camped in front of parliament since the first march on Wednesday.

Poland's largest union OPZZ, Solidarity and other groups said that about 120,000 attended Saturday's march.

They warned that the policies of Mr Tusk's pro-market government have hurt the interests of workers and their families.

OPZZ leader Jan Guz said that the march was a warning and, if the government didn't change its policies, "we will block the whole country, we will block every highway, every road" to demand better working conditions.

"We don't accept policies that leads to poverty," Mr Guz said to a backing of of whistles and horns.

Governing Civic Platform party spokesman Rafal Grupinski said the workers should return to long-established negotiations with the government, which broke up in the summer over changes to the labour code.


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