Group of disabled tell protesters to end parliamentary sit-in

PAP/Jacek Turczyk

A group of disabled people arrived at Poland's parliament building on Monday to urge the protesting disabled adults and their carers to end their sit-in protest in the Sejm (lower house) building and start talks with the government.

Several disabled people told reporters that instead of their sit-in protest, which has continued since April 18, the Sejm protesters should start fact-based talks with the prime minister and the government.

"We'd like very much for this protest to end because, as one can see on social media and generally in the opinion of the public, the disabled are been viewed increasingly negatively. I think it's the result of this protest," PAP was told by Jan Jakub Tyka, a disabled person from Bielsk Podlaski, eastern Poland.

The disabled who came to the parliament on Monday said they would like to meet with two of the disabled adults protesting in the Sejm, but without their parents.

Dr Bawer Aondo-Akaa, another disabled person who disagrees with the sit-in, said the point was not to end talks between the protesters and the government, but to make them more fact-based. He stressed that handing out cash "will not change anything."

"It will not offer support to people with disabilities, and will only make it more difficult," Aondo-Akaa said.

At the same time, another group of people gathered in front of the parliament to express solidarity with the Sejm protesters. They brandished a banner saying "We support the sit-in of disabled people's parents."

Apart from raising financial aid for the disabled to the level of the minimum work disability pension, a demand that has been met in a recently passed law, the protesters continue to demand a special PLN 500 (EUR 117) benefit payment for disabled people over 18 years of age who are incapable of independent living.

The government claims the latter demand has been met in a package of laws that offer the disabled improved rights in their access to medical care. According to the legislators, the preferential services could be worth up to PLN 520 (EUR 121) a month.

The government also wants to set up a special fund for the disabled which would be financed, among other sources, from a four-percent income tax on the wealthy. The first receipts from the new levy, dubbed a solidarity tax, are expected in 2020.

The protesters have not been enthusiastic about the government's latest proposals as they are demanding immediate cash solutions.

In early May, the protesters put forward a compromise proposal on how to achieve the PLN 500 'bonus for life' monthly payment. They say the goal could be reached over three stages, starting from PLN 250 (EUR 58) this September, with PLN 125 (EUR 29) being added from January 2019 and another PLN 125 from January 2020.