Four nurse unionists have been fired from the Barlicki Hospital in Lodz. It's director is on the team of health care managers helping the government to commercialize hospitals and increase casualization of the sector.
The Director of the Balicki Hospital in Lodz has fired four nurses and union leaders who participating in a strike last Septmber. The strike lasted 11 days. Nurses were demanding pay raises to brings their salaries up to 2000 - 3500 zloties per month (450 -800 euro) depending on position and seniority. At the time the strike began, the director of the hospital, Piotr Kuna, filed a letter with the prosecutor's office claiming that the strike was illegal.
Such letters are to be expected nowadays in most strike situations in Poland. Bosses look for any infraction of the Act on Collective Bargaining to claim a strike is illegal. In addition, more and more workplaces are brining civil suits against workers who took part in strikes. Kuna also threatened to sue the union, the All-Poland Union of Nurses and Midwives, for "damages" incurred during the strike. He claimed that he wanted to get this money and give it to the nurses who didn't strike.
The prosecutors' office opened a case against four members of the union, claiming that the strike started 4 days after it was announced to the hospital and not 5 days, as required by the Act. In fact, the situation has to do with the way the nurses were counting the days. The prosecutor's office has filed a motion to the court that the charges be dropped and no punishment given due to the fact that nobody was hurt by this "crime".
Despite the fact that this case will only go to court next week and most likely will be dropped, at the beginning of April. the director sent a letter to the union stating that he intends to fire the four union leaders. On April 20 the nurses received their official termination letters.
The women are outraged and intend to fight against their dismissals.
The working conditions of nurses are generally quite poor in Poland. Nurse often discriminated against in comparison with doctors, who earn more and were often given pay raises in cases where nurses were denied.
The nurses from Barlicki Hospital also point out the anti-union views of Director Kuna. Kuna is one of the people working on the neoliberal program "Let's Save Polish Hospitals", created by the government. The program plans, among other things, to turn hospitals into commercial companies and to give considerable financial aid and tax breaks to those that do. The creators of the plan treat unions as an impediment to progress in their plans to commercialize hospitals and expand the casualization of labour in these institutions.
What kind of actions are
What kind of actions are planned and what is the level of solidarity among the remaining stuff? Does Polish law allow to fire union officials?
As far as we know, the union
As far as we know, the union in the hospital doesn't plan any actions but the nurses' union will have a legal battle. We didn't hear about any other type of protest. It is possible that some of us will travel to Lodz in the next days and may find out more.
In general, Polish law doesn't allow firing of union officials unless gross negligence or illegal conduct occured. This is one of the reasons that the bosses are claiming that there was illegal conduct during every strike or protest. They can even use the slightest pretexts.
The court case against the
The court case against the nurses ended this week. They were not prosecuted but were given fines.