Workers who were renovating social flats in the Wola district without any contract and were not paid have won a payment order from a Warsaw Court. It looks that after months of going without their pay, the workers will finally get their money.
The Wola district, as well as public institutions like the Ministry of Defense, have been hiring shady sole-trader companies to do renovation work. ZSP has been fighting so that workers in such situations have either work contracts or the salary equivalents of normal contracted work, along with benefits. The government has passed laws with would make this possible - but not obligatory. Public institutions in Warsaw thus continue to give work to shady companies through public tenders.
In the fall of last year, the workers joined to take action in their case after they were cheated and wound up in a homeless shelter, with no money to live. They occupied the Wola district office where they were told that "nothing could be done" about their situation. Representatives of the Office did not want to pay them, but also did not pay the company who it had contracted. They denied that they had any possibly to check the legality of the workers of the companies they contracted, which is not true. They just do not care.
If you are interested in the tenants movement, check out this short brochure about the Committee for the Defense of Tenants' Rights. It was prepared for a conference abroad and gives a brief look at what we do.
Beyond Eurocentrism – Spreading anarchosyndicalist strategies – Unifying Struggles
Anarchosyndicalism is currently at a crossroads. On the one hand, we have new opportunities to build active movements on the ground which can show another model for workers in struggle. On the other hand, insufficient mobilization and coordinating efforts on the global level and slow progress have lead some activists towards “quick fix” solutions of unsustainable service models or non-libertarian but perhaps more syndically oriented models.
The anarchosyndicalist lnternational cannot rest in light of such developments and must retake the initiative to be a reference for anarchosyndicalism and a model for new anarchosyndicalist activity around the world. In order to do this, we must break a certain Eurocentric mentality and encourage organizational models which can work in parts of the world that have a lack of anarchosyndicalist tradition.
For this project to work, we have to maximize our efforts and to strengthen the existing IWA Sections.
Anarchosyndicalism cannot be treated as a great theory that maybe can happen years from now but must be seen as a practice that can be used now by working people to spread our method and as a tool of struggle.
We need to learn from the lessons of our movement and not return to the bankrupt strategies.
The X Congress of ZSP took place in Krakow on May 2-3, 2016. The Congress focused on matters of our union activity and development, as well as some international issues. It was followed by an open meeting to present our activities and tactics.
A new section from Opole was admitted at the Congress. Reports were given about groups of workers we are currently cooperating with and/or speaking to and which ones potentially could join our organization. Another part of the Congress dealt with updates on current conflicts comrades are involved in. Almost all of the affiliate organizations of ZSP are currently carrying out conflicts in a number of workplaces and all of the delegates were actively involved in at least a couple of them. The Congress showed that the organization is most active on the level of workplace conflicts and that there are lots of groups of workers interested in concrete cooperation.
Workers are organizing at Zle Mięso vegan restaurant in Wroclaw to take action and fight for their rights. This restaurant, which markets itself as alternative offers no real alternative for workers. Some work under the table with no work record, social insurance or benefits; others who got a contract were given two different contracts - one for the worker, a different one for the owner, in order to cheat on social security payments. According to workers, when they asked for explanations, they were threatened. Workers also claim this pseudo-leftist boss warned about his "connections" (ie, dad who is a politician). After this, some workers quit but intend to fight for what they are owed and demand better working conditions in this restaurant.
We won't eat where working conditions stink and comrades have informed the vegan and activist community of what is happening in this restaurant.
The ZSP Multibranch Union is fighting back against contract abuse and underpayments at the Praski Hospital in Warsaw. Porters at the hospital were paid below the minimum wage and were given too many temporary contracts to sign - by law they should have been offered permanent contracts. Now the hospital has also contracted an outside company for some services and the porters are afraid for their jobs. Our colleague is demanding 3000 zloty in back pay to start and calls on all workers to organize against this practices.
We note that the Chairman of the Board of the hospital is A. Golimont, city councilperson from the supposedly social democratic SLD and it is his signature on the contracts. So we demand that he not only follow the law and provide the minimum, at least, but do more about the working conditions in the hospital. ln turn, we condemn the policies of the government that underfund health care and all those that turn a blind eye on exploitation in the public sector.
In Wroclaw ZSP managed to win a conflict in a local pre-school where the owner did not make social security payments. The situation went back to 2013, although the worker in question did not find out about the non-payments until 2015. After the intervention of ZSP, the problem was solved. The local ZSP encourages all workers to fight for their rights and stresses that workers will bear the consequences of working without all these payments, so it is better to fight.
A group of postal workers, including postal workers in ZSP, have sent a list of demands to the Post Office and threaten to go on strike if these demands are not met. Here is the list:
We, workers of the Polish Post demand:
- a raise of basic salary by 700 zl. brutto;
- an increase of internal staff and postal carriers;
- reorganization of the regions, creating new regions in order to lessen the burden on the carriers
- an end to mobbing;
- limiting what carriers are expected to sell to only postal products (stamps, envelopes, cards). An end to forcing them to sell financial services of the Postal Bank, insurance or items not connected to the post office.;
- lowering the threshhold to get a bonus which are currently impossible to reach;
- that mail delivers not be forced to carry junk mail or to read gas meters ;
- that a 40 hour work week be observed;
- that pay gaps be eliminated;
- We also demand that an outside firm conduct research, twice for one month. The first term will be determined by the postal workers, the second by the board of the post office. Then, after consultation with the postal workers, they should calculate the time it takes to make delivervies of different kinds.
If you don't meet our demands, the result will be a strike!
ZSP has been campaigning against subminimum wages and for guarantees linked to public tenders for the last couple of years. The government seems to have agreed to some of our postulates and has now announced measures that would affect at least 1.5 million workers on subminimum wages.
Some workers' organizations, for the sake of self-promotion, would loudly celebrate a victory. But our experience has shown that government reform is not always what it says it is. We ask if this is a resounding victory or just the first baby steps, frought with loopholes?
Over the past few years, we have made many actions which have involved companies using subminimum wages and/or providing services to public entities. A large part of our membership falls into this category of worker, which is unique for unions in Poland. To explain the issue, Polish law gives too much leeway for companies to hire workers on civil contracts instead of employment contracts, which offer more protection and benefits. Scandalously, the minimum wage law applies only to workers on employment contracts; some people, many of whom should have employment contracts, have civil contracts only to avoid benefits and minimum wage law. There are people in Poland earning less than 1 euro an hour. Some of these people are working for public entities, through service providers. In the past, such people might have been hired directly by the place they actually work and had work contracts; now they are technically hired by somebody else and don't necessarily have contracts. Such is the position of most cleaners and „security guards” (some of whom are actually used as receptionists) in places like public hospitals or municipal offices.
Employees of temporary work agencies are often subject to various problems at work. Workers in several agencies have organized with ZSP, which has been unique amongst unions from Poland in defending their rights, both in Poland and in other countries.
Recently a painter in Holland decided to take action because he considered his salary to be lower than the collective agreement and that the wrong agreement was applied. The difference was 2.62 euros per hour. After meetings with OTTO Workforce, his salary was raised by almost 3 euros and he was paid almost 900 euros back pay to cover the difference.
This case shows that thanks to organization and continuing campaigns, workers can enforce their rights and achieve demands. Being active and solidary brings results. That's why it's worth joining us. ZSP is a different type of union. We join workers regardless of whether they work in an agency or on a civil contract and we know we can fight even in work agencies, where the workforce is disperse.
The situation of agency workers is difficult and those who go abroad can find themselves in a tough situation but more than once we have shown that workers who fight can successly solve problems and improve their conditions.
Without union bosses and bureaucrats.