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Occupation of hospital cleaners against casualisation

About 30 women spend night on roof of Municipal Office protesting their precarious work conditions.

Yesterday, a group of hospital cleaners from the Specialized Hospital in Dabrowa Gornicza had a meeting with their new bosses at the Municipal Office in the presence of members of the City Council. The workers are trying to get the city involved in the fate of the hospital staff since it is a public hospital. Still the President of the City claims they are "not a party" in the conflict.

The problem is that the hospital outsourced their work six years ago. The workers became employees of a private firm called Aspen. In the last public tender, a firm called Naprzod won and will now be their employer.

37 cleaners have refused the conditions of the new contract. They are asking for permanent contracts with a minimum guaranteed salary. In other words, they are also concerned that the company can cut their working hours.

Naprzod wants to give the women 3 year contracts. Those trying to convince the workers to accept this point out that Naprzod's contract with the hospital, which they won in a public tender, is only three years long.

The struggle then is in fact against the outsourcing and the way people are hired in public health care. In recent years, the majority of health care workers have lost their labour relationship with their hospital as part of reforms connected to the commercialization of health care in Poland.

The cleaners had no luck talking to their new employer or the city so they decided to occupy the office. The security guards then locked the door of the top-floor conference room where they were meeting. In this way, they tried to get them out, by among other things, cutting their access to toilets. But the women were able to get onto the roof, from where their protest became visible. They spent the night on the roof and say they are waiting for the President of the City to speak with them.

Posted By

akai
Sep 8 2010 07:22

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akai
Sep 11 2010 11:47

An update:

Naprzod's contract to clean the hospital started today. The women who were protesting, went into work. Naprzod had said during the week that they could have the same conditions as before, just not a permanent contract. When the women appeared today at work, they were told that there are no jobs for them and were turned away.

martinh
Sep 12 2010 17:56

Doesn't TUPE apply? I thought it was an EU-wide thing. It's a double-edged sword TBH but it sounds like it would have helped these workers.

TUPE = Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) - basically should mean that if a contract changes hands, the workers should have their terms and conditions protected Covers most things here except employers can rip off your pension and make you redundant for a "business reason". I can't believe anywhere in the EU has worse labour law than the UK, and this should apply
Regards,

Martin

akai
Sep 12 2010 21:38

Martin,

It DOES apply in Poland. Naprzod, which by the way is a "cooperative" (sic), is just breaking this, as do many companies in Poland. This is going to court I know. The thing is that of course you can later be fired for any pretext and this was one of the arguments the cleaners had. Under the new contracts, which would have been temporary, they would also have much less notice period than on a permanent contract. On the permanent contracts it depends on seniority, but provided it is not a "disciplinary dismissal', it is from 1-3 months notice. In this contract it would have been 2 weeks notice.

The fact of the matter is that the bosses are taking advantage of an outrageously backed up, underfunded and crazy court system which discourages workers, in the hopes that most people they fuck won't succeed to get reinstated. Just so you know, the Ministry of Justice refuses to hire more judges, and cases in Labor Courts have increased about 300% in the last two years. Cases in Civil Courts as well. In some cities, you can wait a year just to get to court but the law only stipulates 3 months compensation for unfair dismissal.

The workers in this case are clever though and are being helped by unionists with good experience and connections. They are also making a fuss about the hospital and municipality and questioning how they got outsourced anyway. That probably won't go anywhere, but it will be a good move since this type of thing is going on all the time and this may put pressure on hospitals currently outsourcing work for the first time as more and more jobs go that way.

akai
Sep 12 2010 21:40

Why we use the word "precarity" and not "casualization":

The word casualization actually applies in this case, but not all work relations are being "casualized" since not all are "formalized". There are many types of precarious jobs which have never been categorized by more formal, permanent labour relations.