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Appeal to the government for a safe return to work

Warsaw, 8th April 2020




The government must immediately expand the Anti-Crisis Shield with a consistent return to work programme. Without this, Poland will not only waste the money allocated for financial support, but also the achievements of a whole generation of Poles.

  • The Anti-Crisis Shield must be armed with an economic recovery program,

  • PLN 220 billion in aid for enterprises at risk,

  • The Danish company reactivation programme possible to implement in Poland.

The Polish government, following in the footsteps of other countries, adopted an anti-crisis package designed to protect companies and their employees from the effects of the coronavirus epidemic. The program, however, has many shortcomings and is insufficient, which is why Poland is in need of the Anti-Crisis Shield Part 2. We consider it essential to exempt all SME operations from social contributions for 3 months and to introduce a liquidity package launched for all companies on a promissory note up to 15% of their last year’s turnover (guaranteed by the National Bank of the Republic of Poland – NBP). All this should and can be financed by debt and giving up new social programs (except for 500+ programme for the second+ child).

Nevertheless, current (and future) programmes will accomplish nothing unless we go back to work. The state has no money of its own and will not last long cut off from tax revenues. Taxes do not pay themselves. Taxes are paid by working people and companies. We have to get back to work. Otherwise we will go bankrupt – regardless of the taxes that will be invented and imposed and the declared aid programmes for companies and employees.

We are risking to lose 30 years of development of Poland.

We appreciate the efforts and openness of the government, but a plan without a strategy to get out of the crisis is not a plan, but just an ad hoc defence tactic. The crisis will not end on the same day the epidemic is over, but on the day most Poles return to work and companies will be able to function relatively normally. That is why we need a roadmap, a comprehensive programme to outline the steps we need to take to resume our companies’ operations and provide jobs for people who are uncertain of what tomorrow brings. We are aware that nothing happens overnight. We know that it is difficult to predict how the epidemic will develop, but the uncertainty and lack of perspective will kill many more companies than it would appear from a simple balance sheet of losses.

Entrepreneurs need an approximate time frame, and if not a time frame, then conditions in which they can wake their companies up from a state of lethargy. Just as we plan sickness and death curves, we should also plan a return-to-work curve. At what variables can we consider re-opening a company? This way, we will create a chart that will not only tell us how many people have died and how much our situation deteriorates daily, but will also give us some prospects of getting out of this economic struggle. For entrepreneurs facing today the decision whether to dismiss employees or fight for survival, this could be information saving hundreds of thousands of jobs and sustaining hope for normalcy – the most scarce product in stock nowadays.

Denmark can serve as an example in this case. A country which, just like Poland, took the threat of the epidemic very seriously. A few hours before Poland, all Danish borders, kindergartens, schools and most of the activities that were associated with direct contact of people were closed and shut down. Today, in the same spirit of responsibility, their government is preparing to gradually lift restrictions and reopen companies.

The Danish anti-crisis programme was thoroughly thought out and focused on the protection of critical social fabric, which is the relationship between the employee and the employer. The Danish government acted faster than its Polish counterpart, more aggressively and on an incomparably larger scale in terms of both the scale of financial support and the introduction of restrictions and bans. They were successful. Employees kept their jobs, the virus is wasting away. Now the most pressing issue is for companies to start earning money again. Otherwise, all the help will be in vain.

The return-to-work programme must be an integral part of the Anti-Crisis Shield. The billions we have spent and will spend on protecting Polish employees will last for a few weeks. After Easter, we will be back in the same place, only poorer for the money spent. Unless we resume economic activity, 10% our GDP will go down the drain. No economic profits, only political losses for those who promised stability.

While maintaining the necessary flexibility and observing all security measures, we should reverse the current thinking pattern and restrict economic activities only of those companies that under no circumstances can reopen. Others, as long as they are able to keep adequate security measures in place, should be allowed to gradually resume their operations. Since most grocery stores have learnt to operate under these difficult conditions, most offices and institutions can certainly open up, not to mention services where customer contact is much more limited.

We consider the accusation of putting the companies’ interests above the safety and lives of Poles particularly cynical and unsuccessful. Poles, like the Danes, as Prime Minister Helle-Thorning-Schmidt said, will never be safe locked up in their homes if they have nothing to return to. This, of course, applies to all of us, though not to an equal degree. People and companies directly affected by the obligation to keep distances, limited direct contacts, travel bans, and border closures suffer the most from this downtime. The vast majority of these are small and medium-sized transport companies, restaurants, workshops, beauty salons, sales salons, the clothing industry, hairdressers, service outlets and hundreds of others. A total of 10 million people who cannot rely on a fixed salary or government jobs. But if we don’t go back to work, the latter group may not be there soon either.

OECD estimates show that four weeks of paralysis of the Polish economy equals 28% our annual national income. Each subsequent week is a shift back in time to the age of double-digit unemployment, the pauperisation of a significant part of society and the wasted opportunities of the next generation of young people. The virus will eventually be defeated and the vast majority of the population will never even be at high risk. Most will learn to minimise the risks. The recession, however, will remain in the public memory for all time as a symbol of the rule of current political formation.

The Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers


Appeal to the Government for a safe return to work


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