akai's blog

Poland: Protests but no strike

On September 14, mass protests were held in Warsaw against recent anti-labour legislation. Unfortunately the unions did not call a strike.

At least 100,000 people joined the demonstrations called by the three main trade unions in Poland against the legislation that basically did away with the guaranteed 8-hour working day in Poland. Despite the serious attacks against the working class, the unions backed off from calling strikes after the government threatened to do away with the system that gives them subsidized paid union jobs.

Italian boss sends workers on vacation, Closes factory and sets up business in Poland - with the help of the Polish state

Firem factory

Workers of the Firem Factory near Modena should take issue with the government of Poland. This is because their jobs have been moved here – to Oława where their ex-boss, Fabrizio Pedroni, will receive tax exemptions and other aid for creating jobs in Poland.

In Italy he had about 40 employees. In Poland he only assured the people in charge of granting permission to operate in the Special Economic Zone that he would hire 18 people. It is not clear whether he will employ more – or just put the work the Italians did on fewer people.

"Solidarity" careerists denounce fired unionist and ZSP, defending the bosses

The so-called “Solidarity” union from a furniture factory in Bartoszyce has issued a scandalous statement in what seems to be a campaign organized by the bosses of Black Red White company to protect its image after the events of recent weeks.

These events revolve around the BRW Sofa fatory in Nidzica, which is wholly owned by Black Red White. This company has a large share of the local furniture market and is present in other E. European countries. Notably, its owner is a billionaire and one of the richest men in Poland. The firm is very profitable. But the pay is miserable and there have been a lot of problems in BRW Sofa.

What's wrong with the unions (pt.1)

Last year Poland raised the retirement age to 67 and this year got rid of the guaranteed 8-hour day. Up til now, the main unions have responded with barely a peep. This lack of union militancy has no doubt given the green light to the neoliberal government to push ahead with such anti-worker measures. Now, as the workers demand some response, one wonders if this will be too little, too late. What are the factors that have lead to this situation? They are complex, ranging from the specifics of the local social conditions to the institutions of trade union collaboration. The following is the first in a series of articles on the situation of the unions in Poland.

Union Jobs: The Road to Stagnation, Hierarchy and Collaboration

What it has come to: Symbolic protest met with calls to truncheon protesters

Lech Walesa has said that unionists protesting against raising the retirement age should have been clubbed and Members of Parliament from the ruling ''Civic Platform” party want to sue them for ''forced overtime”.

While the Parliament was voting to raise the retirement age, Solidarity organized some symbolic protests. Symbolic because you cannot fight this war by avoiding strikes at every time. Instead of even a symbolic one-day general strike, or thousands marching the streets, a few hundred unionists came out.

May Day in light of the current political situation in Poland

Warsaw

On May Day, various part of the left and right political spectrum came out to demonstrate.

Compared to many places in Europe, the socio-political situation in Poland is quite tragic with nearly complete right-wing ideological hegemony and attacks on workers' rights and access to public services which go years beyond the reforms just being introduced in the rest of Euope. With little social response to it.

Support the Workers of FF Mercantil and Comrades of COB-AIT! Boycott Lotto and Finta!

Support sweatshop workers in the struggle to improve their working conditions and organize! Management fired union activists, death threats made.

FF Mercantil runs a sweatshop in Araxa, Brazil. It produces football shoes, uniforms, clothing and other accessories for the Lotto and Finta brands. The working conditions are poor - long hours and work weeks, excessive heat, fumes from glue, insufficient pay. The workers began to organize themselves. That is when the repression began.

Women and Labour in the Realm of Capital

Akai discusses the situation of women at work and in the home.

(Wrote this for the locals but thought the issues mentioned are more widespread.)

The Position of Labour in Poland in the Prism of Neoliberal Ideology

So Flexible it is Bent out of Shape

How far can one go with "diversity of tactics" before diverging with anarchism?

As groups call for entrance into politics or make coalitions with nationalists, this question has shown the urgency for tactical debate based on empirical experience.

The title of this text refers to a long-time trend in the Polish anarchist movement to be "politically incorrect" and enjoy fighting the "dogma" of anarchist thought.

Red and Black (and Brown) Hypocrisy

Turning a blind eye to right-wing involvement in syndicalist movements.

A few months ago it came out that there were some nazis inside the CGT in Spain. They were expelled after a media scandal, with the CGT claiming it was infiltrated, it didn't know and reacted immediately. Others from inside the CGT complained that people knew, but nothing was done about it. Of course the latter scenario would imply that the union was tolerant of this right wing presence.

Poland's Main Unions Resume Attack against Pluralism

The two largest unions in Poland, Solidarity and OPZZ, are going back to the negotiating table. They have already agreed with the bosses to smash the independent unions.

In such a way, thet look to strengthen their position on the union market. OPZZ, which is a federation of unions, stands to benefit by sucking in the unions (or at least their members) which would be wiped out by a proposed amendment to the Act on Trade Unions.

Bum Deal Bums Me Out

Only 11 workers refuse illegal bum deal offered by their boss. It is depressing and their victory is needed!

I am talking about the situation of ZEFAM furniture factory workers, from a town called Nowe Miasteczko in the west of Poland. The situation has apparently been going on for months. People were not receiving their salaries, not to mention overtime pay. On August 19, some of them confronted the manager to ask when they'd get paid.

Azteca Bar Conflict and Campaign Against Illegal Deductions in the Food Service Sector

Conflict at Azteca Bar inspiration for wider campaign.

For some time now we have been aware of several problems which are widespread in the food service industry in Poland. ZSP already started to take on the question of illegal, unpaid trial periods. Now we are also starting to deal with the problem of illegal deductions and fines taken from people's salaries.

Workers Collapse Easily - Capitalism Needs A Little Push

In the third week of a heat wave, more about more workers in Warsaw are collapsing in the street.

Over the last three weeks I have witnessed five times how exhausted people performing physical work in the streets have either collapsed or needed medical attention.

Another Union Protest without Workers, Another Missed Opportunity

Late on July 13 I received by personal email an invitation from "workers of TPSA" to join a picket in front of the French Embassy the next day. (TPSA is owned by France Telecom.)

Having a number of contacts with rank and file workers at the company, I assumed this explained the invitation and, without making any phone calls to check, I managed to get there during my break at work.

To Noam Chomsky on Boycotting Elections

The following is a statement by ZSP.

To Noam Chomsky: Why We Boycott Elections

A question of ownership: reflections on privatization and the bus drivers' strike

Thoughts on the options to privatization.

Bus drivers in Gostynin, Poland, are striking against the privatization of their company, demanding its communalization. Demanding communalization instead of privatization is still something rather uncommon here but is naturally seen as an alternative. However, the issue of communalization also requires some analysis.

Two Suicide Attempts this Month at Polish Telecom and Open Letter from Workers

Workers ask to help spread information about their plight.

The wave of suicides at France Telecom last year made headlines around the world. But in Poland, the suicide attempts of two workers in one month at TP S.A. (Polish Communications, owned by France Telecom) is being hushed over, as are complaints by the workers. They have also written an open letter, again repressed by the mainstream media (but published here).

Lionbridge tries to force translators to pay for the intelligence they themselves created

ZSP continues to receive news from disgruntled Lionbridge freelancers from all over the world. The latest is perhaps worth mentioning.

Starting in June, Lionbridge will charge translators to use the Computer Assisted Translation tool that it insists freelancers use: Logoport, their own proprietory tool.