Yesterday the series of trade union protests around the country culminated in a mass gathering in Bratislava, which saw between three and four thousand demonstrators from various trade unions take to the streets. They descended on the square Namestie Slobody in front of the Government Office, before making their way up to parliament, while causing traffic chaos in Bratislava city centre during peak traffic.
The protests were in response to the government’s austerity measures, which it wants to introduce in order to cut the ailing public finance deficit. The trade unions disagree with the plans as they feel it is ordinary working people that are being targeted most. Vice-chairman of the Confederation of Trade Unions (KOZ), Vladimir Mojs, spoke to the crowd saying that citizens are the victims of the government’s contempt. He also said the measures would deepen poverty in the country.
When they got to the parliament building, they were met by MPs of opposition party Smer-SD and ruling party SaS. The Smer-SD MPs went among them to shake their hands and embrace them.
On the other hand, SaS MPs gathered outside parliament to confront the massive crowd with their own banner saying: “Where were you trade unionists when the ‘socialists’ with the drunkard were looting Slovakia? We have to make savings because for four years you ‘mysteriously’ remained silent”, referring to the various dubious tenders of the former government of Robert Fico.
Needless to say, this enraged the marchers, who started booing and jeering. Some of them ran up to the SaS MPs and started giving them verbal abuse. The SaS MPs were then escorted back to the parliament building by police.
Head of the metalworkers’ trade union OZ KOVO, Emil Machyna, announced that more regional protests would follow.