Protest at Roche against dismissal and shady policies

The ZSP takes the pharmaceutical giant to task for denying workers their basic rights.

Submitted by akai on January 21, 2012

On January 20, the ZSP organized a protest at the headquarters of Roche Poland in Warsaw. The action was in response to the dismissal of one of our colleagues and the shady practices used in regards to employees.

Instead of hiring workers on standard, indefinite employment contracts, Roche makes widespread use of fictitious self-employment agreements in its offices in Poland. Such workers, who normally are employees as described by the labour code, are denied the protection offered by the same. They have to pay their own social security contributions, do not get paid vacations or sick leave, are not entitled to maternity or paternity leave and are not entitled to the same rights in regards to dismissals. There are also some other important disadvantages to being an „entrepeneur” on a civil contract with a firm, including financial liability in case of damages, which is extremely limited for normal employees.

Our colleague was concerned about this, especially earlier this year when there were some serious medical problems in his household. This brought home the reality of what working without sick leave or insurance can really mean in such situations. He was therefore quite relieved when Roche themselves offered to regulate his employment status. He was told that he would be the last person who would be offered such a contract. However Roche did not give him an indefinite contract and did not take into account his previous work in the company, treating him as a new hire. In December he was suddenly told to leave immediately and the company refused to give him any written notice of dismissal.

It was felt that this decision may have been motivated by our colleague's activity, including a large article in the main newspaper just the day before the dismissal.

Our colleague decided to take on the corporate giant and fight for reinstatement and recognition of his employment status, with all the benefits he was denied by the company.

The ZSP has been organizing against the wide-spread and increasing use of trash contracts by companies which are trying to avoid paying benefits to workers. This has included a couple of high-profile cases, including a widely-discussed one about the illegal use of such contracts in the gastronomy sector. It is the aim of the organization to increase awareness of the problems of being a working „non-worker” and to support those who wish to fight for their rights and organize in their workplaces.

Currently the ZSP is also campaigning against the widespread use of under-the-table agreements in the construction industry. It took action in the cases of workers who were cheated on the building site of a shopping mall and in the case of a worker who was illegally employed, had an accident and went into a coma. Situations like this are living examples of what can happen when workers are disorganized and when, out of desperation, they agree to work without formalized agreements or without the proper employment status.

We now are trying to raise awareness of the problems of fictitious self-employment and have begun with this particular case. More actions related to the multinational will follow shortly.

Protest in Warsaw + photos:
More about the dismissal: