PM won't meet protesting medics till demands are 'realistic' - source

Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish prime minister, will not meet protesting healthcare workers until their demands are more realistic, a government source has told PAP.

On Saturday, healthcare workers marched through the streets of Warsaw demanding higher wages and better working conditions as the country braces itself for a fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some of them have set up a 'White City 2.0,' a group of tents near the Prime Minister's Office in central Warsaw, where the protesters will stay 24 hours a day.

The name of the camp is a reference to a ‘White City’ set up by healthcare workers in the same place in 2007. At that time, their demands were similar and the same party, the conservative Law in Justice, was in power.

"The demands presented by the medics are unrealistic, they're an attempt to exert political pressure," the source told PAP.

"Until the demands become more realistic, the prime minister will not meet the protesting medics," the source added.

Healthcare workers have eight demands, including a raise in the minimum wage, giving medical staff the status of a public officer (such as a police officer), and the right to a health-improvement vacation after 15 years of work.

But the Health Ministry has said that meeting all the demands would cost the state for the rest of the year PLN 26.05 billion (EUR 5.74 billion), and PLN 104.7 billion (EUR 23.07 billion) next year.

According to the government source, this is too much given that this year's total healthcare budget is about PLN 120 billion (EUR 26.44 billion).