Strike and lockout at Chung Hong Electronics in Poland

 Strike and lockout at Chung Hong Electronics in Poland

In the past few months, a struggle of dozens of workers has taken place at the Chinese Chung Hong Electronics factory, a supplier of LG in a Polish Special Economic Zone in Kobierzyce near Wroclaw. Workers entered the collective labor dispute with a series of demands: a wage increase, the restoration of the social fund, the reduction of the annual overtime limit, the restoration of free transport for workers etc.

As no agreement was reached between the employer and employees, workers carried out a strike referendum, and the strike was supported by a majority of workers. The employer refused all demands, and industrial action was organized according to the Polish labor law – despite of its weaknesses like a long procedure that in reality stifles workers' unrest.

On June 28 one worker, a member of the Inicjatywa Pracownicza (Workers' Initiative) labor union, was dismissed. Immediately, forty workers went on strike that lasted two weeks. On July 10 the company hit back and sacked 24 striking workers for disciplinary reasons.

That is a lockout by the Chinese employer who violates the freedom of association stipulated in the Polish labor and union law.

Currently, Chung Hong Electronics is looking for new workers through temporary job agencies.

The sacked workers staged protests in front of the Chung Hong factory as well as in front of LG Electronics, both located in the same SEZ (see photos). However, LG used the media to announce that the workers' protest "spreads chaos, creates a negative investment climate and blocks the economic development of Poland, and leads to a deterioration of diplomatic relations with the biggest investor countries in Poland; the result of it will be an increased unemployment in Poland."

LG Electronics and Chung Hong are situated in a Special Economic Zone, which grants them tax reductions and other form of state support. This company benefits from public subsidies while openly violating workers' rights.

Among the dismissed are long-term and highly qualified employees who had worked at Chung Hong for five years. They only earned the Polish minimum wage, but now they are deprived of any source of income. Among them are single mothers.

The workers will assert their rights in the labor courts, but their case will probably last for more than one year. How will they survive until then? If you are sacked on disciplinary grounds in Poland you cannot get unemployment benefit. What is more, the workers will find it hard to find a new job if their work record includes "fired for illegal strike action."

In Poland, the globalization of the economy could mean that the influx of Chinese commodities is followed by the import of Chinese labor standards. The right to strike was a result of intense workers' struggles in Poland in the 1980s, and it was finally introduced in 1990. Until today it has became a fiction. The right to strike is constantly being violated, and Hong Chung is just one example. Big business is attacking those who have often paid a high price for defending the freedom of association and the right to strike.

The workers of Chung Hong, their labor union Inicjatywa Pracownicza and all supporters demand the reinstatement of the sacked workers, full compensation and the fulfillment of all workers' demands.

We will not give up!

A Solidarity Strike Fund was created to support the striking Chung Hong workers, learn how to donate.

Republished from ozzip.pl

Posted By

borzoj
Jul 18 2012 13:10

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akai
Jul 18 2012 18:53

40 workers and 2 week strike not really correct. Basically the workers were locked out from day one of taking action.

Many of us supported the workers and even my comrades and I took independent initiative to picket the agency that was hiring strikebreakers. However, we roundly condemn the tactics of the Workers' Initiative and their sometimes use of the word anarchosyndicalism, which we think discredits the notion amongst workers.

Among the criticisms were:

- that the union allows collective agreements to be signed by the union leadership and brought in an outside negotiator who lowered the demands of the workers during negotiations (by as much as 2/3 in some cases)
- lack of rank and file participation in crucial stages of planning the strike (basically the strike happened as a response to real repression)
- inaccurate information about what happened
- appeal to politicians to help the workers, including the organization of a press conference with the vice-marshall of the Parliament from the neoliberal Palikot movement

We in particular were disgusted by the latest actions, which appeal to politicians instead of rely on direct action. The Palikot movement, a neoliberal party which overwhelming voted to raise the retirement age just months ago, has used lifestyle political issues to attract left voters but fucked workers over entirely. The other party which is involved, the SLD, is infamous for violently breaking workers struggles during their rule: we remember the attack on nurses, where comrades were also arrested, the attacks on miners or on the workers in Ozarow. We also remember how they relaxed the labour law, sent troops to Afganistan and how their leaders organized secret CIA prisons in Poland. The fact that Leszek Miller is now desperate to win points with leftists (the real political support of the WI), means he is willing to get involved here. But who can anybody with any shred of political conscience invite scumbags like these to utilize and usurp this workers struggle?

We were so disgusted by the press conference and nice group pictures used by the neoliberal Palikot movement, our sworn enemies, that we can only react by denouncing such collaboration, which is used where they fail at direct action, and which positions them as intermediaries between workers and politicians. We reiterate to all workers that politicians are our enemies, that the so-called left parties are fakes and puppets of the bosses, working hand in hand, and the Palikot movement is a fraud, a bunch of neoliberal blood suckers coming to power on false politics and by offering a unique political product to disillusioned liberals.

Workers self-organization cannot be achieved through executive committees and needs to take place at the grassroots level, not by calling up your friends in parliament.

The politicians have, over the past 2 years, played hundreds of idiotic and naive liberals for fools, making consecutive guest appearances and promising poor people and workers help, but failing them every time. Others have been just bought out by the system, convinced that only political power is capable of making any changes. We insist that our strength is through creating grassroots radical struggle. Even if we cannot manage this on a large scale, it is better to try than to sell out to the politicians and teach workers that their tactics should be deferring to their union bosses and kissing the ass of some politicians.

There will be some statement of ours on this issue.

Any Polish speakers can watch this video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGwx9Q35UAM

Black Adder
Jul 18 2012 19:59

Reformists use workers as a cannon meat. The woman which organized this conference is a vice-speaker of Polish parlament. She was member of SLD, and Polich Labour Party which is strongly influenced by far-right. She decided to cooperate with Palikot to get a chair in the parlament. Now she "supports" many social actions made by left activists in Warsaw to make herself more popular.

She does not do anything. Example. When FEMEN was arrested in Ukraine, a guy who supports all anarchists actions organized solidarity picket. At the same time Nowicka with Palikot organized conferetion on the same topic. Just to make action look as if they organized everything.

During eviction of squat after the worst moments of police violence she just came to talk with squaters. Next day one of the newspapers said that Wanda Nowicka blocked eviction. Nothing about people who suffered from stick and pepper gass.

Cooperating with such people you both are usefull idiots and build propaganda against anarchism for our enemies associated with nationalist and leninist movement.

MT
Jul 18 2012 20:05

the question is why WI do not bother about anything of this. although it could be said as well that many parts of so called revolutionary syndicalist movement around the world do not bother to keep in mind similar odd activities of WI

borzoj
Jul 19 2012 09:04

akai, Black Adder:
I am not actually in Poland and I was not aware of the questionable tactics of WI. Critique of union bureaucracy as well as politicos is necessary, but it should not prevent us from showing solidarity with the workers on strike.

akai
Jul 19 2012 09:54

I am also for showing solidarity. The thing is that here, sometimes, we are able to have direct contact with them. Others have to go through the intermediaries, who, so far, haven't provided a single account of the strike or subsequent actions which is in line with what people have seen on the ground. That's the first thing. It's absolutely unnecessary to do things like exaggerate the amount of people on strike. (We've seen double figures given.) It's also not helpful to mislead people, for example, by saying that 90% of the workers supported the strike. Only a handful joined the strike, making it easy to isolate them and fire them. It's a stupid tactic. Our union doesn't care about that. If there is a workplace struggle and even if a small minority have good claims, we support them. We don't need fairy tales.

The main question of course is not about whether or not the workers' demands are correct.

These tactics are out of the question for us and of course they being used as a substitute for building grassroots unionism.

When one takes into account the fact that the union in question routinely claims to have like 20 or even 30 times as many members as for example mine, one can wonder why they are incapable of making a stronger grassroots campaign. We saw in Warsaw the first workers campaign from them in the last three years, which was quite weak. Not that we criticize small pickets. But it has to be said that for us the king is naked. With too little support for their liking or their own ambitions, they only resort to routinely reporting twice as many participants in everything and trying to ride of the backs of politicians.

It's been this way a long time. It is a general syndrome of the Polish left. The vice-marshall of the Parliament and them are cut of exactly the same political material. It's opportunism. Her career is an extraordinary example of this. It's true, she ran for elections with this crap party which was full of right-wingers. And lost terribly. Polish people could take a look at the results - less than 2000 votes, coming behind the far-right lunatics and even the gnome party joke candidate. (50% fewer votes than a gnome.) We have party lists here, so getting on a list with a scumbag millionaire capitalist got her into power, despite only getting 7000 votes. (Outside Poland this might not make an impression, but even the editor of the anti-clerical paper "Fakty i Mity" got 250% more votes last election. When the founder of an atheist party and former cooperator with the secret police gets more than twice as many votes as somebody in Poland, you really are not doing very well.)

The general tendency towards political prostitution means that people who play a certain game can even get themselves into positions of power without much popular support. This is the same way that some unions try to go, creating power through connections, first with other sleazy unions, then with sleazy politicians.

These practices don't really help workers to build their own horizontal organizations. It just teaches them about compromising and dealing with sleaze.

So for this reason it is not different than a struggle of the mainstream unions. In any case, we agitate the workers to go against their unions when they are negotiating away their rights and demands in meetings with the bosses and we agitate for grassroots struggle and direct action.

szcz01
Jul 19 2012 11:30

I think you exaggerate - yes, the real - problem. Ok, some of the SLD regular members supported direct action, but what do you suggest here: should they be excluded? This article didn't mention that, but the strategy was not just to call one (1) politician and have fun.

It all happened after unsuccesful occupation of the agency in Warsaw (responsible for SEZs) - as you know the mainstream media wasn't concerned about lockout, somewhere in the country. Now we need them to use - not as fairy tales, but as a tube (remember about the workers situation!).

I think you know that the real problem is lack of people. Perhaps instead of next criticism (which is ok untill the

Quote:
The vice-marshall of the Parliament and them are cut of exactly the same political material. It's opportunism. Her career

) we all should concentrate on giving more information for the rest of society about us, our aims, structures, actions. Anti-election action could be nice opportunity.

And where the fuck have you seen leninists?

akai
Jul 19 2012 12:40

To MT,

The above is the answer about why people around WI don't care about any of this.

To O1,

The comment about Leninists probably means that the actions of the opportunists with black and red flags help others, including nationalists and Leninists, to build propaganda against anarchists because your type are associated with the enemies of the working class. I am not sure that is what the author of the comment meant, but that is how I understood it.

Yes, it is nice to make anti-election actions. When we made one last year, the sec of IP was involved with a different action, together with politicians again, which we boycotted. They made a demo which actually went by ours and bozos from the Labour Party left that demo to come threaten us (because we are against all parties).

So the usual scheme is that we make anti-election propaganda and other people invite politicians to make propaganda at their demos just before elections. This has been going on for years. This is not a new situation.

Here, I am not talking about regular members of the SLD (whatever the fuck that means). Even if you just talk about going to pickets, you can hardly call the secretary of the regional SLD Mirowski (clearly seen on photos) as some rank-and-file politician. It is a party functionary, plain and simple.

And so the leader of SLD Napieralski meets with Chung Hong representatives, without the presence of workers. Great.

As for the unsuccessful occupation in Warsaw, there is a reason it was unsuccessful and there was no interest. Basically if there is no active WI movement in this city and there is no request for support for direct action even with the people who know how to make occupations quite well, what do you expect. Of course for some people it is easier to call to the parliament than mobilize local anarchosyndicalists. And of course there is press, but it is only for left statists and liberals, since it is bad press for most people to be associated with those bozos.

Anyway, thanks for a taste of Polish reality here. You got a whole army of sleazebag politicians ranging from Leszek Miller, Molon, Napieralski, Wenderlich and so on involved and you try to make it look like some action of a few "normal" members of SLD.

szcz01
Jul 19 2012 15:25

(First thing - I don't have legitimacy to write 'we', I'm just simple supporting activist, even not in IP)

Well show me that frightening leninists...

About politicians - big misunderstanding. I wrote only about the pickets. What they've done on their own (letters, etc.) - was only their business.

Some 'inaccuracies':
(i) Napieralski - f o r m e r leader, don't color! (it was SLD party initiative also as I know, not IP!)
(ii) as i know: none called any fuckin' secretary - it seems like insinuation
(iii) with this c o n t e x t this looks like next insinuation:

Quote:
So the usual scheme is that we make anti-election propaganda and other people invite politicians to make propaganda at their demos just before elections. This has been going on for years. This is not a new situation.

-

Quote:
Yes, it is nice to make anti-election actions. When we made one last year, the sec of IP was involved with a different action, together with politicians again, which we boycotted.

Whats the story? I don't know it

I can only agree with your regret that IP activists didn't contact syndicalists from Warsaw and ask for help.
But I want to underline once again that the trouble with this action is showing only numerical weakness of the whole movement in Poland.
Beside some story of some member of IP which belonged to some ultra small national (not nationalist!) party in local elections what pissed your group I don't understand this struggle between different black and red anarchists in Poland. Always wish you both could finally stop that ant work together.

akai
Jul 19 2012 17:34

Well, true, an inaccuracy on my part. Napieralski, in his fourth term as MP, actually was replaced last year by Leszek Miller as official leader of SLD. What the fuck difference does that make? It makes any difference if the no. 1 or no. 2 person in the party is talking with the bosses without the workers?

Maybe you can also explain what you consider the difference between a national and nationalist movement. I think people would find it fascinating.

Our group was also pissed because members of IP take part in elections AND publish propaganda on their central webpage (which is not open publishing) telling people to support the election, ie. financially.

By the way, it would also be fascinating to know what this nationalist's job actually is since it seems that he is the owner of auto schools with multiple branches. I don't suppose he is self-employed in 3 places at once, but stranger things have happened with members of IP.

As for the secretary of the Upper Silesian SLD (a paid party functionary), here is his photo: http://kujawsko-pomorskie.sld.org.pl/politycy/97-mirowski.html Here he is at the demo, the article is even signed by him, http://www.sld.org.pl/aktualnosci/491-nie_dopuscimy.html. Here he is at another one: http://www.sld.org.pl/aktualnosci/442-ciag_dalszy_protestow_pod_fabryka_chung_hong_w_biskupicach_pod_wroclawiem.html

What insinuation? Should I identify the rest of the SLD members at the demo? There is also a member of the neoliberal demokraci.pl I see on some photos.

In terms of politicians, the story is the same as always. Invited and tolerated by some. Same last year while we made an anti-electoral action. BTW, among the politicians then was also the vice-marshall of the Parliament.

Both events were quite public, even covered by the mainstream press, so you will find the information. You can read about our action on our page, both our own description and media description in the appropriate sections.You can also read about the other action, for example on the propaganda page of the vice-marshall.

Anyway, it is clear you do not understand this "struggle" about politicians, even more so if you don't even see them.

About Leninists I won't comment as somebody else brought it up. Personally, I am less frightened by Leninists than by years of experience with anarchists who support politicians, apologize for small capitalists, invent special categories of nationalists and so on. At least Leninists are upfront about their politics and they have a clearer position against neoliberals like Palikot.

szcz01
Jul 19 2012 20:47

For anarchist no.1 or no. 2 in big party makes no difference but as far I can see we live in the media constructed consciousness world, and the difference is clear, so the significance of usage is clear to.
Guy from SLD just came there - anyone could get there and protest, understand that.
It's funny that small personal mistake of organization makes you so frightened. Are you completely clear, saint? Now i see that number 89 in small party is the same kind of guy that no. 1 of a big one - it makes me so jealous of the world that you live in ('cause I do not understand struggle between two anarchist groups, and you) - it's ideal: black and white.

MT
Jul 19 2012 21:05

szcz01 - imho, you give very poor and lame response. IP is quite known for their scumbag practices and excuses. no-one is saint, but, really, this is your response to what was said?!

akai
Jul 20 2012 07:37

Well, these are typical responses to the issue. Instead of speaking to the basic issues of the use of political power, politicians, outside union reps and so on, it's some confused hippy nonsense.

It is a senseless argument about the media. Both the number 1 and number 2 person in the party was involved and this makes no difference anywhere, even less in the media.

If we speak about the media, then we know that the presence of the SLD and Palikot movement at the demonstration was announced in the press beforehand, which means the press was informed about it when informed of the demonstration.

If we speak about the media, the press conference with the vice-marshall did not bring much more media than the demonstration. It's clear that whatever actions the workers would organize would have the same exposure in the media, except it wouldn't allign them politically with any parties.

And, in this case it is clear that the unionists went there, not that the party went to them.

Anyway, it's bullshit. Nobody is frightened about any small personal mistake, just strongly opposed to certain practices.

BTW, I am a member of an anarchosyndicalist group, not an anarchist one.

akai
Jul 20 2012 08:20

Another meeting with the politicians. http://dukrk.pl/news.php?readmore=460
From the pages of the Democratic Union of Women we hear about the meeting of the Chairperson of IP in the factory, Jolanta R., with the following politicians on Tuesday: Krzysztof Gawkowski, general secretary of the SLD, Grzegorz Napieralski, PM from SLD (former leader until this year), Radosław Mołoń, vice-marshall of the voivodship, and chairman of Lower Silesian SLD, Ryszard Kessler, head of the Democratic Party (neoliberals) in the region, plus some others.

It's just a response to defensive claims about the nature of the SLD's involvement.

szcz01
Jul 20 2012 08:38

You did not understood both your idealistic attitude. I'm not here to argue or teach you anything (or as you wish to creat 'typical', 'lame' answers). What did the conference is not that thing which it could possibly bring. I don't mind that it doesn't make any difference for you. It's fine to that it' clear for you only that 'unionists went there, not that the party went to them', I don't mind. Truly wish you good luck in your idealistic world where in the chains of ones one zero always makes zero.

akai
Jul 20 2012 11:19

Well it is clear that if a press conference with the vice-marshall was held in the Parliament, that the unionists went there. There is no other explanation, so your answer is simply ridiculous.

pikatron
Aug 28 2013 13:53

a film about the chung hong struggle is now available here with english subtitles: http://en.labournet.tv/video/6596/special-exploitation-zones