Polish farmers plan general strike, blockade of Ukraine border

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WARSAW (Reuters) – Polish farmers’ Solidarity trade union plans a general strike starting next Friday with a blockade of border crossings between Poland and Ukraine, it said, joining similar protests all over Europe.

Farmers in France, Belgium, Portugal, Greece and Germany have been protesting over the impact on farming of the EU’s drive to tackle climate change, as well of opening the door to cheap Ukrainian imports to help Kyiv’s war effort.

Farmers’ complaints across Europe include being choked by green rules, taxes, rising costs and unfair competition from abroad.

“Our patience has run out. Brussels’ position on the last day of January 2024 is unacceptable for our entire agricultural community,” the trade union said in a statement dated Thursday.

“Additionally, the passivity of the Polish authorities and declarations of cooperation with the European Commission … regarding the import of agricultural produce and food products from Ukraine leave us with no other choice but to declare a general strike.”

European farmers’ frustration came to a head in Brussels on Thursday, where farmers threw eggs and stones at the European Parliament and started fires and set off fireworks as they demanded EU leaders at a summit nearby do more to help them.

Solidarity said that apart from the blockade of crossings with Ukraine, it planned on-off blockades of roads throughout the country between Feb. 9 and March 10.

Poland’s agriculture ministry did not immediately reply to an emailed request for comment.

A separate organisation of Polish farmers had earlier blocked a key border crossing with Ukraine, but the protest was suspended on Jan. 6 after the new government agreed to its demands.

(Reporting by Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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