While a few hundred people protested at the City Council and a few hundred more gathered signatures on the streets to recall the President of the City, a crisis and emergency management center prepares for taking measures "to protect national security"
Hands off the Workers!
About 300 people gathered to protest at the Warsaw City Council against its anti-social policies and various attacks on workers being carried out by budget cuts.
The main group of protesters were public transport drivers. The city decided to take away some benefits that they get with members of their family, which transport workers won in 1932. The drivers have threatened to strike.
During the annual Pinksterlanddagen in Holland, members of the Anarchosyndicalist Union (ASB) and ZSP gave a presentation about anarchosyndicalism. The members of ASB gave a little background on anarchosyndicalism and, since this was an anarchist event, also on its connections to anarchism. They presented the ideas of the ASB and a little about their history and activities. A member of ZSP spoke about the international dimensions of anarchosyndicalism and gave practical examples of struggles on different levels, including some that could be carried out in Holland.
The next day, insurrectionalists with primitivist tendencies made a presentation against syndicalism in general, which led to an animated debate.
The ASB most recently has joined in on actions started by unemployed people against the Workfare scheme. This is basically a program to force unemployed people to work in exchange for benefits and allows companies to have free labor for them, subsidized by the public through state benefits. (Our sister organization in Great Britain, Solidarity Federation is active against this program.) ASB is also involved in a campaign against FlexiWork and is hoping to start new activities in its Amsterdam office soon.
The IT Workers Union of ZSP supports the strike of the Capgemini workers to be held tomorrow, May 17. The main reason for the strike is the company's plans to fire 370 workers Responding to a call from the Communications and IT Workers of the CNT-AIT Madrid, we will be distributing leaflets and publishing information about the struggle.
We note that the company also tried to dismiss workers in Spain last December, but were also met by a strike. Such action has been successful in forcing the bosses to withdraw their plans. But the bosses keep trying, so the workers will have to keep up the pressure.
Attached is an English version of the leaflet.
Why Do We Speak About Poland in a Leaflet about a Spanish Struggle?
One reason is that Poland is one of the places that jobs from Spain and other countries get sent to, in order to pay workers less. It is very important then that workers connect the dots internationally and connect themselves.
In many of the cheap labor countries like Poland, workers are suffering from some sort of perverse Stockholm syndrome. They are terribly exploited and underpaid, especially compared to their counterparts in other countries in Europe. In Capgemini, we can say they are really underpaid even for the Polish market. Despite this, many are brainwashed by those who run the system to believe that in this country, you can expect no better. We are told we are so poor that we had better take any job and that the only way anybody would put jobs here is if we work cheaper than the others. We are expected to thank our masters for the privelege of slaving for them, for very little money and rarely with any job security. In such a mindset and encouraged by the proponents of severe economics who run the government and the media, workers sometimes react to news about strikes in other countries by thinking that those people have such good jobs (compared to them), that they cannot understand. Unfortunately, one can meet this divisive mentality in many low-cost countries like Poland. So in cases like this, we also write about our situation here, to show that it is pretty much the same thing and to help people understand what people are struggling for. We also would like to make people in the industry, both here and abroad, think more about the interconnectivity of their fates and about the need for international coordination.
Delete the bosses, not the workers!
On May 9, a protest was held during the continuation of a Warsaw City Council meeting against the city's plans regarding education. The city has made cuts and is "recommending" some changes in schools such as firing some staff, cutting the working hours of school caretakers and eliminating the maximum number of children per class.
There was not a huge crowd at this protest, since it was the continuation of a session held earlier which was cut short and we didn't have notice of it. But still some people came - parents and different education workers.
We found out about some more cuts being made from protesting speech therapists from Bemowo. So we are now seeing that probably some specialists like speech therapists and school psychologists will be the next victims of cuts. Just before May Day, as our new Education Workers' Bulletin was being made, we heard from these workers in Legionowo, a suburb of Warsaw, that their working hours were being increased by 33%, with no extra pay. Now we have met speech therapists from Bemowo who have also had their hours increased as part of austerity measures.
Seeing the people in the audience, a few councilpeople tried to change the agenda of the session to include the education question, but were quickly voted down by the neoliberal majority. People did not like this and started shouting different slogans at the politicians. The Chairwoman of the Council, in her typical fashion, make a break and went to eat cake.
After the break ended, one man noticed that the corridor was filled up with police in riot gear. He started to shout to the people and at the politicians that they brought the anti-terrorist squads against them. One member of ZSP yelled to the politicians that they were the real terrorists and should be beat up. People went to the corridor to try to take photos of what was happening, but the police probably did not want this to be in the media and by time people got there, they could see the police running away into another place.
None of these people had ever been to the city council before and were quite disgusted, surprised and some a bit scared of what happened. In fact, it was extremely strange to see this amount of police called, especially against a crowd like this of nearly all women and clearly not the riotting type.
ZSP has called for more actions and will revisit the Council with a bigger crowd during the next regularly scheduled session.
On May 1 a demonstration went through the center of Wroclaw, under the slogan "Poland – Special Exploitation Zone". The slogan was an allusion to the Special Economic Zones set up in Poland, especially ones near Wroclaw, which are infamous for their scandalous working conditions. ZSP Wroclaw organized an anarchist blok in this demonstration, supported by activists of the CRK social center.
Before the demonstration, members of ZSP Wroclaw went into fast food establishments which were open, including McDonalds, and gave out leaflets to the workers.
About 200 people took part in the demonstration, which shouted slogans like "Enough terror of the bosses”, "Capitalism is cannabilism" and "Don't tighten your belt, tighten your fists".
Along the route there were different speakers. Members of ZSP stopped the march in front of a temporary work agency (Work Service) and told about the problems of temporary workers and about the problems of workers sent abroad, about the need for international actions and solidarity and about our actions in this respect. Members of ZSP also reminded people on the march of the origins of the May Day holiday. The new issue of the ZSP newspaper, "Zapłata", was also distributed.
On April 29, a picket was held at the City Hall against planned cuts in education. Across Poland, drastic cuts have been taking place in the last 2 years: hundreds of schools have been closed, some categories of educational institutions lost their status and the workers lost the rights guaranteed to teachers and about 7000 teachers lost their jobs. Twice as many teachers will lose their jobs this year and various cuts are being made.
In Warsaw, the cuts will mean that special lessons for handicapped children in pre-schools will be cut, the limit on the maximum number of children in a class will be eliminated, school caretakers, who already earn about minimum wage, will have their hours cut, and other education workers will lose their jobs.
On April 28 there was a protest at Bemowo City Hall regarding plans to put evicted people into building containers in the middle of nowhere, instead of providing them with social housing. As it is, the standards of social housing are very poor: 5 meters per person, without need to have heat, hot water or a toilet. Now they would like to put these people in metal boxes which do not even qualify as buildings or housing under the law.
A protest was held at the City Hall of those responsible for the plans, despite the rain. However, our protest was met by a counter protest of far-right goons, who suspiciously appeared out the back of City Hall giving out their own, grotesque leaflets and calling us Bolsheviks and complaining about parasites, Eurosodomy and other things. As it turns out, we were able to identify the ring-leader of the band as an official at the City Hall, a department head who lost in elections but is in the ruling party, so got a cushy position. And this is not the first time he has made some an action: he was seen creating a similar disturbance another place, also pretending to be an outraged citizen.
The Education Workers Union in Warsaw will hold a rally against planned cuts in education, which will effect hundreds of workers and thousands of pupils.
The City of Warsaw has no legal competence to make dismissals or reorganize the educational structure, but it is cutting the budget and telling the schools how to
reorganize. The first decision they made is to lift the maximum limit of students per class (despite this not being in their competence). They simply will not give money and force schools to join classes. The result will be more crowded classes and less attention for pupils, and more stress for teachers. Eventually, the joining of classes will also mean the reduction of teaching positions. The other ¨recommendation” made by the city is to cut hours of some teachers and auxiliary staff at schools. Again, the City has no legal competence to decide this, but simply cut the budget and ¨recommend¨ to the schools that they adjust their budgets by such measures.
The effect of the latter is that certain workers in schools, caretakers or janitors,
will no longer have full-time employment. In the case of caretakers, this will be an
extremely hard blow. As it is now, the typical gross salary of a caretaker is just 400 euros (the legal minimum wage) and less than 300 euros a month take home. This category of worker can not really make ends meet in Warsaw but many of them are older women, many having started work years ago and they are not very competitive on the job market, where it is very hard for a woman over 40 to find any job, and many of these caretakers are 50 or older. As a present for all their years of low-paid service, they will have their hours reduced so they would not even earn minimum wage.
The rally will take place outside the city hall and a follow-up protest will take place during the session of the City Council.
On April 27 and 30, there will be actions held in solidarity with FIAT workers in Tychy and Bielsko-Biała, Poland, and Kragujevac and Belgrade in Serbia. Our sister section of the IWA, ASI, will be organizing the actions in Serbia.
FIAT decided to fire 1400 workers in Poland and create the same amount of new jobs in Serbia. They Serbian government is going to pay FIAT 10,000 euro per worker, which is equivalent to about 2.5 years salary. Money for this subsidy has been supplied by the Russian government.
It is obvious that the workers in FIAT are all being used against each other, as the
company goes where the wages are cheap and subsidies are given, ready to throw out the workers at any moment and always using the threat of competition against workers' demands.
We cannot tolerate this exploitation and we will not be divided.
Polish right-wingers try to use this situation and the fact that it is funded by Russia, to create national sentiment and hate against others – they wind up blaming the workers for the problem instead of capitalism.
The ZSP and ASI will protest against this situation amd send a message that workers around the world need to be in solidarity with each other, even when the capitalists are involved in manouevres such as in FIAT.
The comrade was attacked in Moscow on March 28 by a group of National-”Anarchists” from so-called MPST. The MPST is according to our sister organization the KRAS, known with their nationalist etnicist statements and writings; they proclaim the “preservation of ethnic identity”, declaim against the mixture of people and against the synthesis of cultures, and declare that the cosmopolitism is a “devil incarnated of capitalism”. Moreover, one of the leaders of this group confessed that he agreed during his interrogation in police to inform the authorities about social movements.
This is not the first time that members of MPST have attacked several political opponents inclusive anarchists physically. In January, they threatened also the libertarian LGBT activists. MPST spoke against homosexuality and was demanding that LGBT should not raise their "rainbow" flag in anarchist demonstrations. After this “discussions”, the LGBT activist were in fact attacked during one libertarian manifestation.