Okna Rabien: Calluousness and indifference towards workers in the name of profit.

Dozens of Phillipino workers face deportation after problems with their employers at Okna Rabien near Lodz.

Submitted by akai on April 28, 2009

At the end of February / beginning of March, 98 workers from the Phillipines were employed at Okna Rabien window and door factory in Rabien, near Lodz. The hiring of these workers were part of management's plan to take on 200 cheap workers to replace 249 of them recently at the end of last year from the company.

The workers quickly found out about what idea the company had about them: that they would work long hours for shit wages and be thankful for the chance to "make a fortune in Poland". The "fortune" would turn out to be minimum wage - and about 200 dollars a month less than they were promised to earn by the employment agency in the Phillipines. In addition, the workers were housed in unheated containers in poor condition, were given bad food and were, in general not satisfied with their working conditions. Very soon, workers started to leave the factory.

Some tried to go to Germany but they were caught and detained by border guards. about 12 days ago, a group of 31 employees went to the Honory Counsul in Warsaw, who wrote a letter to the company imploring them to treat the workers better. They stayed overnight in Warsaw, returning on the early train. Only after showing the letter to the boss, he claimed that the workers were late for work - so he fired them all.

Since the workers were fired, they also lost their housing in the containers, so they started to wander around Rabien all day and, having no place to go, decided to camp out in the yard of the church where they were found in the early morning. They were eventually taken to a homeless shelter.

As it turned out, without employment at Okna Rabien, they were suddenly "illegal" as their work visas expired immediately with their employment. Only they had no money and didn't even have their passports since the local representative of the work agency took them. For a week, people callously argued about who was going to pay to deport the workers. There were rumours that 20 would be sent back to the Phillipines today at the cost of the work agency but this has not been confirmed.

Of the 98 workers sent to Okna Rabien, only 23 were apparently desperate or docile enough to stay there. In the meanwhile, the homeless shelter where they were staying wanted to move the Phillipinos back to Rabien, because, as they claimed, the May weekend was coming up and they could have troubles with racist hooligans were they to stay in Lodz.

Despite the fact that the arrival of the Phillipino workers at the factory was seen rather negatively by the local workers who lost their jobs, there were no problems with them. However there were protests against the hiring of cheaper foreign labour which would earn half as much as the Polish workers.

Okna Rabien is one of the leading producers of windows and doors in Europe and has a healthy profit. It is believed that the urge to make more profit at the cost of labour was largely due to its recent aquisition by the sleazy Czechoslovak firm, Penta Investments (registered in Cyprus). This investment company requires a minimum 30% IRR (internal rate of return) from companies they invest in and has averaged a 50% IRR in the past. Cheaper workers, more profit. It's that simple.



15 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Skips on April 28, 2009

Very interesting. Its ironic that British companies try to do the same type of thing with Polish workers yet we never hear these stories from Poland in the mainstream media.


15 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by akai on April 28, 2009

Last year new legislation was enacted to facilitate the hiring of workers from Asia. In particular, they were thinking of cheap Indian farmers and workers from Pakistan although workers from further east are also popular. Chinese workers, who were imported en masse last year for construction work, had a number of problems and were massively fucked on at least two occassions by firms that wouldn't pay them. The government, which is always claiming that it doesn't have money, also wanted to hire loads of Chinese workers and use prison labour to build the infrastructure for the Euro 2012 objects and related projects such as roads.

The great problem that these people tend to have is that they do not have any idea of who can help them. And it's really awful how they arrange these work visas so that if the company which sponsored you fires you, your visa expires.