Warsaw cabbies threaten strike on Euro 2012 launch
(WARSAW) - Warsaw cab drivers blocked traffic Wednesday to protest at government deregulation plans and vowed to strike again on day one of the Euro 2012 football championships if their concerns are unaddressed.
"We don't want to protest during Euro 2012 -- it's our government that is forcing us to do so," Michal Wieckowski, chairman of the Solidarity trade union's Warsaw cabbies' local, told AFP in front of the Polish parliament, where drivers congregated in protest Wednesday.
Taxi drivers in other Polish cities also hit the streets in protest at the government plans to deregulate a host of occupations, including cab-driving, which requires applicants to pass various special exams.
In Warsaw the cabbies began a slow-drive action in morning rush hour, crawling down five streets in the city centre to wind up in front of parliament where they tossed toilet paper rolls into trees and blew on toy trumpets.
The toilet paper, along with dozens of used tires stacked in a pyramid, were meant as symbols, according to Wieckowski.
"Toilet paper is a kind of metaphor to show what Gowin's ideas are good for," he said, referring to Polish Minister of Justice Jaroslaw Gowin, who is behind the deregulation proposal.
Wieckowski said the cabbies would protest again on June 8 -- the day the 16-nation Euro 2012 football championships hosted by Poland and Ukraine kick off in Warsaw -- unless the government agrees to sit down to negotiate with them.
Cab drivers insisted they were out en masse to drive home their point.
"This is our solidarity: one for all and all for one -- one person won't accomplish a thing," said 60-year-old Wojciech Kusnierz, a Warsaw cabbie attending the protest.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk played down the consequences of the deregulation law on the taxi business in Poland.
"Their concerns are, in my opinion, definitely overstated," he said, according to the PAP news agency.
"We will gladly talk with them," he added.
Text and Picture Copyright 2012 AFP. All other Copyright 2012 EUbusiness Ltd. All rights reserved. This material is intended solely for personal use. Any other reproduction, publication or redistribution of this material without the written agreement of the copyright owner is strictly forbidden and any breach of copyright will be considered actionable.