Poland's Solidarity union backs President Duda reelection

Warsaw (AFP) –


Polish President Andrzej Duda, who is running for reelection, on Tuesday won the support of the present-day incarnation of the government-friendly Solidarity trade union that brought a peaceful end to communism at home in 1989.

The election by postal vote only is scheduled for Sunday, but its organisation has been stymied by countless legal, constitutional, technical and safety issues.

The ruling right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party has for weeks been under intense pressure to postpone the vote because of the coronavirus pandemic, with calls for a delay coming from the liberal opposition, medical workers, the majority of the public and even certain government allies.

The PiS has so far refused to budge on the timing -- with analysts saying its calculus is that ally Duda has better chances of winning sooner rather than later -- but holding the vote on Sunday is increasingly looking untenable.

On Tuesday, Duda and the Solidarity union, which has several hundred thousand members and is close to the PiS, agreed a platform including a pledge to provide financial help to those who lose their jobs because of the pandemic.

The programme also outlines a change to the retirement law that would allow people to leave the workforce after a certain number of years on the job as opposed to a certain age.

Over the last five years, "we've always been able to count on the president in tough situations," said Solidarity leader Piotr Duda, who is not related to the president.

The Solidarity leader also recalled that the incumbent's main rival Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz -- the head of the conservative PSL farmers' party -- was instrumental in raising the retirement age in 2012 to 67 years for everyone.

After coming to power in 2015, the PiS lowered it to 60 for women and 65 for men in 2017.