Razor Attack on Foreman in Lodz, 2005

Excerpts from a reportage from the daily paper Gazeta Wyborcza (17.10.2005). An accident in the Italian household appliance-factory Indesit in Lodz/Poland lead to an attack on a foreman by masked workers with a razor.

Submitted by Steven. on January 8, 2010

Lodz with 700.000 inhabitants is becoming a center of the European household appliance-industry. Until 1989 the city was a center of the Polish textile industry which since then has been closed down. The city is poor, with high unemployment. Some household appliance-factories have settled down here, among them Bosch-Siemens (see article in this newsletter on Bosch-Siemens in Berlin).

The two Indesit factories for refrigerators' and cooking stoves employ 1,750 people, among them 1,300 manual labourers. The rest are Polish white collar workers and only a few Italians, among them the three Italian bosses. The workers are under high pressure from the management. The wages are low (4,20 Zloty an hour, about 1,10 Euro). With overtime the workers earn about 1000 Zloty. Despite high unemployment Indesit has problems finding skilled workers, the turnover is high.

The workers are complaining about the treatment in the factory. Young workers are being employed after finishing school, without experience. No other skilled worker would accept 4,20 Zloty an hour. The training on the machines lasts only a few minutes. Then the conveyor belt gets started and the managers and foremen press the workers to work fast. If the workers do not meet their piece-rate, their foremen are being punished for it by the management. That is also why many workers have to do overtime and work on Sundays. Often the workers are being told to carry on working just before the end of the shift. It happens that they work till 10 p.m. just to get back to work at 5:30 a.m. next morning.

The workers hate their bosses, especially the Polish foremen. Those had asked the workers to take the security installations of the machines to speed up production. That measure - and the fact that the 21-year old worker was completely overworked due to overtime - is seen as having caused his death. He got stuck in a machine that he could enter because the security installation was taken off and was squeezed to death.

In general, there are many injuries, especially cuts on hands and heads... Before the accident happened the foremen had increased the piece-rate and asked the workers to take off their gloves to be able to work faster. The worker who was killed had saved another workers life some time earlier on the same machine. The foreman and managers also treated the workers badly, shouted at them, blamed them for standstills that were due to missing parts. Often the pay-slips were wrong. There had been other attacks on managers before, in and outside the factory. The foremen whose face was cut was called the “SS-man” by the workers.

“It is a Gulag, a work camp,” say some other workers about Indesit. They are using the internet, forums and chat-rooms, to exchange comments and threaten the managers. Many of the most hated managers are mentioned with their full names. Every morning when they come to the office they read the stuff to find out who is being threatened, who is highest on the hate-list. They are scared, especially after having seen the foremen’s face. “Now he’s got a broad smile”, says a worker. Since the foremen was attacked the other managers are getting escorted home every day.

[prol-position news #4, 12/2005] www.prol-position.net. Edited by libcom for accuracy.