Green Way Vegetarian Restaurant doesn't pay workers

Will young people organize against unpaid labour? Polish anarchosyndicalists are attempting to encourage this.

Submitted by akai on February 10, 2010

One anarchist from Poland wrote:
In 2005, there was the first information about problems in the Green Way restaurant in Łódź. In 2007, information on the subject was published on the portal CIA. Former employees pointed out that people were often hired on unpaid "trial periods". Such unpaid trial periods are illegal, but that doesn't stop sleazy employers from deceiving workers.

A lot of discussion followed. As it turned out, a worker in Poznan had similar experiences and spoke of how workers were required to do two free 13-hour shifts. Besides the free labour, in both cases, working conditions were abyssmal.

We campaigned about this issue and had hoped that things would be better. Unfortunately, the pattern is repeating, with new reports from Olsztyn and Wroclaw.

The pattern of exploitation in Wroclaw looks to be extremely disgusting. There are at least 7 confirmed instances of having unpaid trial periods since the beginning of the year. Currently people are investigating the situation. Surely there were more.

The potential workers are told that they have to work a week for free on a trial period. This is against the law - but that apparently doesn't bother the owners because they know that the authorities don't really control this stuff. In some cases, people have had to work even longer. If people asked questions about this, the boss has said "it was training" or even signed some fictious work contract in at least one case.

Besides being forced to work for free, people at Green Way in Wroclaw are often not even able to say what their wages are - because they don't know. There is, unsurprisingly, very quick turnover and when recently visited by ZSP, it was found that the employee behind the counter who had been there the longest was only there a couple of weeks.

Such problems are unfortunately common in Poland but it is particularly dispicable when the employer is trying to project a certain image of the company. The Green Way empire - a large chain of restaurants and other businesses - capitalizes off promoting "fair trade" and "healthy lifestyle" but are fraudsters committing crimes against their employees.

Actions are being planned to force Green Way to give employees decent working conditions. ZSP is also trying to inform workers, especially marginal workers and young people, about their rights at work and to convince people not to agree to such conditions.

At the same time, we condemn the State Labour Inspectorate, who was interviewed about the problem of free trial periods in a newspaper today. Although the labour inspectors know about the problem and know it is widespread, only one employer was fined in the last two years for the practice. This is evidence that the Labour Inspectorate is not at all proactive at inspecting for such violations and in fact facilitates the exploitation of young and precarious workers.



14 years 2 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by akai on February 13, 2010

There was a picket and more actions are planned:

A former worker confronted the boss who cynically claimed that "she never worked there". A few former employees have already declared that they will join this campaign and a few current employees are interested and considering action.


14 years 2 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by 888 on February 14, 2010

Good luck! This is one of the kinds of action the Seattle Solidarity Network has had some success in doing. If you are in contact with any of the former workers who want the pay that is due to them, it should be possible to force the employer to pay them. Pickets can be extremely effective in reducing the business of restaurants, particularly ones that market themselves as "ethical". With good timing and planning you should be able to cost them so much in lost sales that they will be forced to pay, unless they are extremely stubborn and prefer losing lots of money. As it's a large chain, it might be a bit harder - depending on how independent each restaurant is (whether they are franchises or not).

one example-


14 years 2 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by akai on February 14, 2010

The corporate management of the franchise blames the individual owners of the restaurants and tries to whitewash the problem, claiming that it is in individual, isolated incident - despite the fact that they knew about these problems a few years ago. If they don't take decisive action ASAP, they will wind up facing more than a few pickets from us.

Unfortunately consumers are not as ethical here as they are in some other places, but we are sure that there are enough to put pressure on them to change their ways.

The other problem we have is that their seems to be no lack of desperate people looking for jobs.

In terms of the place being a franchise, this is only a problem of the mindset of the management. They go to great lengths to ensure that the restaurant has the "right architectural image", that they are not within a certain distance of each other, that they have standardized meals, etc. etc. - but they do nothing to ensure that workers' rights are upheld, which could be part of the conditions for having a franchise.