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Transformation of mining in Poland – talks and negotiations – February 23, 2021

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We have largely agreed on three out of five chapters of the social contract for mining. It is about social protection and employment guarantees, technological investments and the transformation of Silesia – said Dominik Kolorz, the head of the Silesian-Dąbrowski Solidarity movement. The chairman of the negotiations on the part of the government, Deputy Minister of State Assets, Artur Soboń, admitted after the meeting that there are issues of key nature.

– It must be honestly said that a few details that remain to be decided are things that, perhaps in terms of volume, are in a minority today, if we take the entire text of the social contract, but are crucial from the point of view of the entire system. We want to refine them and agree on them in working teams, said Soboń, announcing soon further working meetings with trade unions.

March deadline

The deputy minister maintained the March deadline for signing the social contract. – We would like to return to the planar talks at the voivodeship office (in Katowice – ed.) In March with a ready text that we would confirm together in talks with the social side and – I hope – that they also signed this social agreement – declared the deputy head of MAP.

Artur Soboń admitted that among the discrepancies there were, inter alia, the nature of employment guarantees for mine miners and employees of coal mechanical processing plants. In the agreement of September 25 last year, it was stipulated that people employed in the mines on that day will be provided with employment in the mines until retirement or will benefit from social protection. The dispute concerns whether these guarantees can be included – as unions want – in the act, or – as proposed by the government – in an agreement between unions and employers.

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– We want everyone who works underground today and in the transformation to be able to work on their retirement age. We are wondering how to regulate this issue. The social side is inclined to legislative solutions. In our opinion, they will not be as effective as solutions between the employer and the social side in individual mining companies – and this is only a question to be resolved – the deputy minister explained after Tuesday’s talks.

– On the other hand, as a rule, we want to give a chance to refine the retirement age first, and only then to enable social protection for those who leave the mining industry earlier – whether it is for early leaves or not at all – he added Soboń.

– Here we have a discrepancy. We would like the employment guarantees resulting from our agreement of September 25 last year to be statutory guarantees. For now, the government side does not agree to it – admitted the head of the Silesian-Dąbrowski Solidarity, Dominik Kolorz, announcing that this issue would still be the subject of talks. Assessing Tuesday’s meeting, Kolorz declared that he was starting to be “very moderate, but optimistic”.

Three chapters

– Today, three chapters of the social contract have been largely agreed – first of all, the chapter on social protection and employment guarantees, the chapter on technological investments and the chapter on the transformation of Silesia – reported the unionist, assessing that the last chapter is “the furthest agreed”.

– We are left with two (chapters of the agreement – ed.), And in fact one most important: the element regarding subsidizing mines, the notification system in the European Union. We’ll be working on it next week. There are also some elements related to the transformation of the region that are already outside the system related to hard coal mining – added Kolorz.

Negotiations are ongoing

The talks on the social contract for the mining industry have been going on for several months. Last week, meetings devoted to this were held almost every day – both in the form of working groups and wider meetings. Also on Monday, a working group dealing with the subject of public aid for mining met in Katowice. On Tuesday, it was one of the topics of the plenary meeting in Katowice.

The basis of the social contract for the mining industry is to be an agreement concluded between trade unions and the government party in September last year in Katowice. It outlines the horizon of decommissioning steam coal mines until 2049 (including a detailed schedule for closing individual plants), with a guarantee of subsidizing coal production in this period. Underground miners and employees of coal mechanical processing plants will be provided with work in the mines until retirement or social security – pre-retirement leaves and severance pays.

The social contract is to expand and clarify the provisions of last year’s agreement. The work is based on a project prepared by trade unions. In addition to the topics related to extinguishing mines and shelters for miners (the proposal says about 120,000 severance payments and pre-retirement leaves), the project also includes on investing in clean coal technologies and transformation mechanisms in the voivodeship Silesia, with guarantees of appropriate national and EU funds for this purpose. A special Silesian Development Fund would also be established.

Hard coal mining in PolandPAP


Main photo source: Shutterstock

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