Deadbeat Bosses Screw Workers: Rowicki, Stanislawczyk, Langenbach, Lee

More and more workers in Poland are going for months without pay by deadbeat bosses. In the worst cases, the bosses go running and nobody can find them.

The following deadbeats and cheaters are among the many candidates for "the Worst Boss of the Year Award": Jerzy Rowicki, "liquidator" of Collar Textil, Marek Stanislawczyk, former owner of the same company, Friedrich Langenbach of Fassaden Glas Technik in Ozorkow and Myung Bok Lee of Hanpol Electronics in Lodz. This is what happened.

The first deadbeat boss of the year was Myung Bok Lee who disappeared over New Year, leaving the company in Lodz without a boss. This may seem like a dream come true to some, but the boss disappeared with the company's money, leaving the workers unpaid for December. Lee is the longest on the employer fugitive list. According to Polish law, since the workers' weren't fired, they did not qualify for either unemployment insurance or money from the Guaranteed Employee Benefits Fund, which normally pays compensation to workers whose company went bankrupt.

(Due to this case, the law was changed, although employees still will have to wait months to file for the benefits and even more time to get them.)

The most recent fugitives relate to cases currently going on.

The workers of Collar Textil in Opatow unfortunately made lots of mistakes. Collar Textil is a well-known producer of shirts for famous Polish and German brands. When the crisis hit, orders fell and a plan was apparently hatched to liquidate the firm for its fixed assets. The workers, mostly women, hadn't been paid since June, but they continued working with promises that they would be paid. Some of the 360 former employees went on retirement or quit and about 150 of them were sent on unpaid holiday starting in September. Yet another 150 worked in the factory until November.

According to Polish bankruptcy law, the owner of a factory must file for bankruptcy the moment it is insolvent - which is when its debts exceed its assets or it is unable to pay its debts, including not being able to pay its workers. In July, at the point when it stopped paying workers, it was sold to Marek Stanislawczyk. Stanislawczyk had a spate of shady business activity and, among his many businesses was one that bought, sold and raided insolvent companies.

At the time of purchase, Stanislawczyk became legally responsible for the debts of the employees. Instead, his shares were transferred to Rowicki, who became "the liquidator" and re-registered the company in September as a "company in liquidation". However, he did not file for bankruptcy. Nor did he pay the workers. Instead, he sold off equipment to a firm which seems to have connections to the liquidators. The firm, just 17 km. away, will probably take over Collar Textil's business and even try to hire former employees.

The workers have the opportunity to file a petition for bankruptcy when they are not being paid. There was no doubt about what would happen in September when half the workforce was sent on vacation and the company was named "in liquidation". Despite this, they worked to finish an order until November, perhaps hoping against hope that they would get paid. They did not.

The workers of course could not get any compensation until bankruptcy was declared. The 150 who were still around started protesting, including an occupation of the factory. The case will be heard in court next week and the prosecutor is after Rowicki. Both Rowicki and Stanislawczyk, who are liable for the payment of the workers and may be guilty of fraudulent transfer of property, have disappeared.

The last deadbeat boss is Friedrich Langenbach from Fassaden Glas Technik. Unfortunately, the employees there also worked for months without their normal wages - they haven't been paid properly since August. Only symbolic payments have been made from time to time. Most workers are now owed 5 months wages.

It is quite sad that such situations occur and people do too little too late. In December, 40 employees finally formed a trade union. The boss then started threatening to sell the factory and trying to threaten the workers not to sue him. He also then claimed that he cannot sell the firm to an investor (who is supposed to "save it") because there is a union. He is said to have made lots of threats about the union.

Langenbach has been a deadbeat for a while; there were 3 work inspections there in 2009. Langenbach was, among other things, not paying people in time; the State Labour Inspectorate ordered him to pay workers in April and July. But one month later, he stopped paying again.

Langenbach in recent days is not to be found anywhere.

Posted By

Jan 13 2010 20:35


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