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The Polish Post Office has again filed a criminal case against a member of ZSP and has reported the union to the State Counterintelligence Agency (ABW) in an attempt to quell a wave of industrial action that is sweeping the country.

The documents show both a frightening degree of invigilation and completely idiotic mistakes and ridiculous claims. It outlines a history of the unions actions at the Post Office, even from the time before it was founded and accuse it of provided forums where workers leak trade secrets and encouraging them to commit „criminal acts” - such as protesting or calling for a strike. In particular it singles out one comrade but mentions a few others. It also hilariously exposes his supposed pseudonyms, which in reality are other rather well-known people.

Despite the comic moments found in the generally incompetent document, the situation is not at all funny. The criminal charges could carry up to 2 years in jail and could lead to civil liability related to ongoing industrial actions.

Currently, postal workers in around 30 cities in Poland are involved in a dispute with the Post Office which they do not want to recognize. In 20 cities, approximately 40 percent of mail carriers have come down with a case of the „Carrier Pigeon Flu”, an epidemic that we have been warning about for some time. Around Poland, workers in certain professions – such as teachers or court workers – have organized such sick leave protests when they were unable to organize a strike through their union. In a couple of smaller towns, nobody came to work.

Last week, demands were delivered to the Post Office management. They include pay raises and other improvements of working conditions. The postal workers also demand the reinstatement of Zbyszek and Rafal who were fired for organizing at the Post Office. Now they will have to add postulates against the invigilation and attempted criminalization of protest activity.

As the management denies that there is any problem, the Carrier Pidgeon Flu continues to spread across the country.

See also: http://zsp.net.pl/new-wave-protests-and-threat-repression-polish-post-of...

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The mass protests of postal workers in 2017 coordinated by ZSP and a network of workers outside of the mainstream unions was met by some repression but also brought a few concessions to the workers and promises of improved working conditions. However, most of the workers' postulates were not fulfilled, leaving them dissatisfied. After some months of recovery, workers again have started to mobilize and again the Post Office has issued a number of heavy-handed threats.

Comrades from ZSP have been mobilizing. On January 29, a representative of ZSP delivered a list of demands to the Post Office central in Warsaw on behalf of the Listonosze.pl network and on January 30, a picket was held in front of a court in Wroclaw in defense of Zbigniew Trochimiak, a postman from ZSP who had been fired from his job for union organizing after 36 years working in the Post Office.

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Cleaners at a refugee center near Warsaw have scored a major victory, having received payments for all their demands. The workers were employed at Debak refugee center through a firm called Sadar but not all of them had proper contracts and thus did not receive proper vacation, sick pay or social security payments. In December, the workers, organized in ZSP, decided to take action, confronting the boss and demanding both payment for everything they would have been entitled to under a proper contract and direct employment through the center instead of working through an outside company. At first the company reacted by hiring a lawyer to threaten ZSP and by putting pressure on the workers, but they did not give up. In late December, they decided to hold a picket in front of the company office, which happened to be located in the private residence of one of the owners. During the picket, the workers read out how much money they were owed and posted the demands. The owners then called to set up negotiations for the next day in which they promised to pay everything and informed the workers that they gave up the contract for cleaning the center.

The agreement was that all parties would meet after the holidays and after New Years', the workers were in fact paid everything they were owed. The union is very happy that nobody backed down and the conflict was won through these actions.

ZSP again points out that such abuses are common and calls on public institutions to give up outsourcing jobs which can be done through direct employment. We also point out that the same company has won other public tenders and problems exist in other places they provide cleaning services. Public and private institutions that use such services should pay much more attention to what is going on with the people working there through outside companies.

We are glad that this victory can show other workers that they needn't be afraid to stand up and fight for their rights. So many employers abuse the fact that people are so desperate for work and that the system turns a blind eye on cheating workers. It's time to put an end to this! Time to organize!

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On December 18, cleaners from the Debak Refugee Center picketed at the home (and registered "office") of one of the owners of Sadar Sport Management, the company which has the contract for providing cleaning services. There have been numerous problems with the company, which did not provide contracts to some workers and which gave only part-time contracts to full-time workers in order to save on different tax and insurance payments. Workers decided to organize and demand both money owed by Sadar and direct employment at the Center.

After an action a couple of weeks ago, the staff has been on the outs with the management, which is just trying to cover up its practices and make threats to ZSP. Since the managers have not acted fairly towards the workers, the workers decided to visit them. As the company does not bother to have a physical office, the workers went to the company's registered address, which is also the private home of one of the owners in the affluent town of Komorow.

The workers picketed, read out their demands including the exact amount of money they would have received had they been normally employed, leaving a copy both in the mailbox and stuck to the building.

Later this week they plan to visit the government institution which runs the refugee center which their demands to be employed directly. The Refugee Center is serviced by five full-time cleaners however their labour is outsourced. ZSP points out that such outsourcing usually is accompanied by various forms of cheating and exploitation and for the last few years have been conducting a campaign called "Enough Exploitation on Public Money" in order to demand, among other things that government institutions employ people directly and resign from outsourcing.

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On December 10, ZSP organized another picket at a Schaffa Shoes shop in Warsaw to protest against their practices towards workers – namely, unjustified dismissals, late payments, lack of payments and generally poor treatment. A similar picket was held earlier in the year at another shop, where another worker had similar problems and, although that situation was finally resolved, it seems that these practices persist.

A couple of ex-employees took part in the protest to support their colleague who was having problems with the firm. We were able to see the boss (and his father, who also plays a role in the business) in action. Prior to the action, the boss took a selfie of himself at the police station to send to the worker, to suggest that there would be a police intervention. This was understood as some sort of attempt to scare her, which obviously did not work. However, part of the money owed was paid just before the action (the main salary, but not the equivalent for vacation days).

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For several years already, ZSP has been fighting cases related to outsourcing, especially in public institutions. Often conditions worsen or workers are denied certain fundamental rights when their work is outsourced. A new group of workers who decided to try and correct their working conditions are the cleaners at the Debak Refugee Center in Podkowa Lesna, near Warsaw.

A firm oddly called Sadar Sport Management won the public tender for cleaning services. This company is present in other places, such as in the commuter train stations in Grodzisk Mazowiecki or in the center of Warsaw, where a couple of workers are without any contracts or benefits whatsoever. They also won a tender recently to clean the court in Grodzisk.

Although the company advertised that they were hiring people on work contracts, the cleaners have either some contract for services, contracts for reduced working hours (although they work 40 hours) or no contract at all. In the case of the first, there is no protection of employment as under the Labour Code, and different benefits are denied. In the case of the second, less money is paid into the retirement fund, the firm is only obliged to provide a fraction of the paid vacation required by the law and, in case of illness, the worker is entitled to much lower sick leave payments. In the case of being illegally employed with no contract, the workers are denied basically all of their rights.

With all this, we can say for certain that the workers are being cheated and exploited by the employer and we should not be paying for this with public money.

ZSP has appealed to the Office for Foreigners, the institution which runs the Refugee Center, to stop using outsourced services and hire the 5 workers directly on normal work contracts.

Tomorrow the workers will confront the bosses of the cleaning company about the serious issues involving their employment. Any harrassment of the workers will not be tolerated by the union, which plans on holding informational events, pickets and other actions in this case.

Sadar needs to clean up their act and pay up what belongs to the workers.

ZSP Multibranch Union, Warsaw

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ZSP has written numerous times about how the management of the Polish Post Office tried to intimidate protesting workers by using threats and by firing 4 workers active in organizing while letting the contracts of a few others lapse, refusing to renew them.

A number of these workers sued the Post Office for compensation and reinstatement and also for unpaid overtime. The Post Office is trying everything to avoid reinstatement; usually their tactics revolve around attacking the workers yet another time.

Our comrade Rafal was singled out for his active part in organizing large protests in Warsaw and was given a disciplinary dismissal under false pretexts in March 2017. On March 16, a few thousand postal workers protested for higher pay,followed by a second national demonstration in April. and a number of concrete improvements in working conditions, some of which the Post Office was forced to partially react to. Salaries have been raised, but only 25% of what the workers were demanding.

The inefficient court system does nothing to help workers fighting for reinstatement as Rafal's case has just started to by heard, 15 months later. Nonetheless, it was important to take a stand in this official process to establish the pattern of abuse in this state institution.

On November 15 the case started with the Post Office trying to pressure other workers,who they called as witness, into supporting their frame up. However, things did not go as planned. While the Post Office has claimed that there was no forced overtime, and called overtime worked “a courtesy”, the workers testified that the Post Office was understaffed and that it was impossible to do everything in an 8 hour day. Furthermore, they all testified that the workers all chipped in 40 zloties a month from their own pockets to pay for help. Somebody would have to come in – even sometimes at 2AM – to sort the mail for them before working hours, otherwise they wouldn't be able to both do the sorting and deliveries on time. They also testified that the Post Office was not keeping evidence of the real working hours.

The management tried to justify their firing under the pretext of „safety concerns”. Thanks to the court case, we were able to obtain certain documents from the Post Office as evidence. While employed, Rafal was checked by the management and the following was written:

„The actions of Rafal Czerski […] consisting of calling on postal workers to protest, his connections with the ZSP, influences unrest and as a result, there is a risk of destabilizing the functioning of the Polish Post Office."
"Rafał Czerski is a sympathizer and maybe even a member of an anarchist organization called Związek Syndykalistów Polski. He actively participates in meetings and actions agitating for raises for mailcarriers. Rafal Czerski has brought his anarchist convictions to the Polish Post Office by distributing leaflets with radical content like „Enough exploitation – Time for Raises” and by calling for organization of postal workers from below in order to win pay raises."

Such texts leave little doubt that the main purpose of his dismissal was to stop organizing in the Post Office and derail the demands for pay raises.

In typical Polish style, the next hearing is scheduled for May 30, 2019. With workers having to wait a couple of years to get reinstatement cases heard, there is no doubt that most employers who illegally dismiss workers are never held accountable. In the meanwhile, the Post Office continues its programs of using prison labour to deal with the fact that few nominally free workers want to subject themselves to those conditions.

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Strike Actions Continue at LOT Polish Airlines. For one week now, various staff have been striking and protesting. Almost 70 workers have been fired in response and the airline has prepared legal cases in an attempt to scare others against joining the protests. ZSP calls for wide-scale action against the state-owned airline. Below is the statement of the ZSP-IWA. We call on our sister organizations to spread the news and show their solidarity.

LOT Polish Airlines has forced some workers to pretend they are independent contractors and have a B2B relation, rather than be employed. This forces them to take on various forms of liability and to waive their rights to certain benefits guaranteed under the labour law. As contractors, the labour law does not apply to them.

STATEMENT:

Solidarity with LOT Polish Airlines Workers

ZSP would like to express its solidarity to the workers of PLL LOT who are facing repression from the management for taking industrial action in the struggle for improved working conditions at the airline. We absolutely condemn the actions of prezes Rafal Milczarski who fired 67 workers disciplinarily for their participation in protests and work stoppages and for his continued intimidation tactics. This includes demanding payments of between 400-800,000 zloties from pilots as a punishment. Previously the airline fired the head of one union and has filed lawsuits of 200,000 zloties against unionists for supposedly damaging the reputation of the company.

Such actions are completely deplorable. We support the demands of workers to have proper contracts and working conditions and especially the rights of the staff which is underpaid to fight for better wages.

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ZSP is very happy to announce some new, important victories in the struggle at PoloMarket, which is in its second year. First, our Rafal has won significant compensation for overtime pay. The supermarket, like many in Poland, used different methods to force more time from workers. In Rafal's case, they included not giving him breaks and failing to take into account limits which should apply to persons with disabilities.

Prior to this, several other workers from our union received overtime payments as well. Rafal's case is important because it also stresses the rights of workers with disabilities and shows that they can fight back. We point out that this category of workers is often abused by bosses who assume that, due to their precarious position, they will not be able to fight back. But as in several other struggles concerning more than 50 our of members, we have been able to show this is not the case.

PoloMarket, in truly despicable fashion, responded to the worker's initial claims by trying to bring a criminal case against Rafal. Later, they brought 2 more cases against 8 people for supposed „crimes” committed during a visit to their headquarters to demand compensation for a worker who was unfairly dismissed – despite the fact that they admitted she was right and paid the compensation. We are also happy to announce that all 3 cases have been won.

Such bullshit attempts to criminalize workers' action is just part of the normal pattern of harrassment which is often unfortunately supported by the courts and government institutions in Poland. Court cases can last for years, causing major inconvenience for workers, in addition to lost work time and other costs. Employers count on this to discourage and intimidate workers. However, ZSP has showed, once again, that we will not be intimidated and we can win.

The struggle against the violation of workers' rights continues, as do our organizing efforts and claims against the market. We expect more and more workers to get what they were cheated out of by the chain.

We thank everybody who showed their support in these cases.

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On September 22, the ZSP Warsaw general trades union took part in a demonstration called „Poland Needs Higher Wages”. Besides calling for a general increase in salaries, it reminded people of the ongoing and unfulfilled demands of Postal and Health Care workers in our union, stressing that only the consistent, self-organized actions of the workers outside the mainstream unions brought any gains in this area. Over the last 2 years, wages in the Post Office have been raised, but only to 40% of what the workers demanded. Only more decisive action can lead to victory, but the management and positions of other unions have hindered the struggle.

The union also reminded workers of other problems related to the general income of workers and living standards. It reiterated its call to fight outsourcing in the public sector and the use of various types of employment which deny workers basic entitlement such as paid vacation, which in effect, decreases the total value of their compensation.

The demonstration also called for pension reform, demanding the right to retire after 35 years worked and the reinstatement of several types of early retirement for certain unsafe and unhealthy professions. This right has been eliminated in recent years.

ZSP considers the whole pension system to be a critical disaster which will seriously impact many of those workers who started their careers after the economic transition (in 1989). This means that in the next 10-20 years, we will start to see a rapid increase in poverty amongst senior citizens. Already many of them simply cannot afford to retire. As the gurus of the turbocapitalist economy can only recommend that people put aside more money for their future, we point out that an increasing amount of people live with crippling debt or cannot even make ends meet. Simply put, with wages on the level that they are, most workers simply have nothing they can save.

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