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On February 18, 2017, the first in what would be many protests was held in front of Polomarket in Bydgoszcz. Over the course of the year, the supermarket chain has come under pressure to clean up its act. The firm's response has been repeated attempts to criminalize the protesters.

Unpaid overtime. Falsified signatures on time sheets. Denying workers breaks. Health and safety violations. Workers from different Polomarket supermarkets around Poland have all come with similar claims. When workers and former workers in Bydgoszcz started the campaign one year ago today, the chain immediately claimed it wanted to resolve the problems. Instead, it initiated a criminal case against one of the workers and has been trying to dissuade other protesters with numerous attempts to get people charged with nonsense charges such as blocking the traffic in their parking lot. The repression isn't working and more and more workers are coming out to expose the problems in the market.

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On January 21, a picket was held in front of PoloMarket in Wroclaw. This is the latest in the campaign in defense of workers from the supermarket chain which has lasted for almost one year. 5 workers have already received compensation for unpaid overtime and one for unfair dismissal, but the company still is trying to repress protesters, including with criminal cases. Another 12 workers have cases in court. ZSP has organized a few dozen protests across the county over the past year.

Among the demands of the workers is payment of overtime, no more threats of firing workers and an end of the repressive measures of the firm towards members of the union. One criminal case against a now former employee for supposedly damaging the reputation of the company has been going on for months and the company keeps pressuring the police to bring charges against other members of the union, who are subjected to numerous interrogations.

While Polo has been engaged in repression against union activists and other workers, the pressure has also been on them to clean up their act. There are reports that the situation is improving regarding the evidence of working hours, that workers who were once denied breaks and getting them and that the company stopped forcing workers to buy products past the expiry date so as to avoid losses.

On the other hand, more and more workers have come forward to reveal various incidents of abuse at the market.

ZSP is interested in achieving better working conditions in supermarkets and small groceries around the country and encouraging workers to organize.

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The management of the Polish Post Office is again trying to intimidate workers who have spoken out against the poor working conditions that they suffer.

Postal Workers from around Poland are planning pickets next week, to recall their postulates, which include a decent raise and improved working conditions. Again the Post Office management has responded by threatening to fire workers who talk about their working conditions publically, on the internet.

On December 1, the Post Office published a text which states:

„In relation to the increased activity of some anti-Post Office people on the internet recently, we remind you that all of our internet activity is monitored. The internet is not a space where we can feel beyond the law and hide behind the mask of an anonymous user.

People who disclose information about their professional activity or work relations, or who describe projects they are taking part in or who comment on decisions taken by their supervisors, rarely are conscious of their very negative activity. Every post against the employer and its good name is in essence a violation of the work agreement.

Losing trust in a worker is a reason to immediately dismiss a worker with justified cause, … The Supreme Court has also confirmed many times that such situations can be grounds for dismissal. In addition, if the employer loses an important contract or client because of what workers are writing on the internet, the worker will also be responsible for compensation.”

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For several months, ZSP has been conducting a campaign for the improvement of working conditions at PoloMarket. Dozens of protests have taken place throughout Poland, highlighting the various problems workers faced there: unpaid overtime, usually related to non-documentation or falsification of working hours; forced overtime work for people with disabilities; problems for workers who want to take holidays; lack of breaks in some shops; harrassment and various health and safety problems. There was also an unfair dismissal. (The worker involved received compensation after an action at Polo's corporate headquarters.) So far several workers have received compensation from the market, but many others are still struggling to get what they are owed. ZSP would like to see a change to the illegal and exploitative practices at the market.

During recent protests in Aleksandrow Lodzki, a town where the Labour Inspectorate confirmed various problems, workers from Belchatow came and told us about the issues in their city, saying they would also like to take action. The problems were similar to those in other cities. There was also the issue of falsified health and safety training where workers were expected to sign that they had training which never actually took place.

On November 25, protests took place in front of the two Polomarkets in Belchatow. Workers told about their experiences in the shop and about the problems confirmed by various inspections. Many people expressed their support of the protest. The union is encouraging workers from Polo to organize themselves and not to be cheated. It plans to hold more protests, especially before the holidays, when a lot of people go shopping.

Several workers have already received compensation from the supermarket chain and some court cases are in process, including a case Polo brought against a former worker in a failed attempt to intimidate people. Despite pressure put on supervisors and low-level management to testify in court against workers, there is a lot of evidence on the workers' side, and in a few incidents, the supervisors were cornered and had to tell the truth. We have heard that a couple of these people have now lost their jobs themselves.

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A little satisfaction for some (now former) PoloMarket employees. Workers from ZSP have been protesting against practices at the market and demanded compensation for unpaid overtime, among other things. As the company did not want to settle with the workers outside of court, the union brought multiple suits against the supermarket chain. The chain, in the meanwhile, has responded with various attempts to bring criminal cases against members of the union.

On September 28, the case of two former workers was in court in Bydgoszcz. The company that did not want to settle claims with the workers changed their tune after evidence was submitted to the court from the Prosecutor that confirmed that there were forged signatures under the evidence of working hours.

The workers were satisfied and now the union waits for next week, when more workers will have their cases heard.

Despite this, the chain still maintains that everything was "normal" at the markets and refuse to settle claims of some other workers. Therefore, the union will not rest and more actions are planned.

Congratulations to those who didn't give up, despite the adversity from their former employer/exploiter.

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After Solidarity signed a measely pay increase for Post Office workers and defended the use of unpaid overtime, the union has come in for harsh criticism for its collaboration.

Over the past couple of years, postal workers from around Poland have been expressing their demands for better working conditions and have been doing so outside of the main unions at the Post Office. Workers see that these unions work more to defend the interests of the employer than the workers. Last year, a series of actions, including work stoppages were held, organized by the workers themselves, outside of the unions. At first, these were mostly actions of mail carriers, but later, other categories of workers also joined in.

Some members of ZSP working at the Post Office engaged in contacting the different groups of workers and together organized a national coordination to put forward demands agreed by workers themselves – not by union bureaucrats with zero accountability to the workforce. In the first of three national meetings, workers set out a list of demands, including a raise, with basic pay to rise to 3200 zloties, payment for overtime work and reorganization of the regions. (Currently, some workers have to cover much more ground than other and the assignment of good or bad regions are often the result of favouritism or used as some form of keeping people in line.) In March, workers organized a series of protests on the same day in 23 cities throughout Poland and then at the beginning of April, a demonstration in Warsaw in which more than 2000 workers participated, making it the largest workers action outside the mainstream unions since the transformation.

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On this May 1, comrades from ZSP in Wroclaw co-organized an anarchist May Day, together with the local Anarchist Federation. The demonstration started at the former May 1 Sq., under the Monument to Struggle and Victory. Several comrades spoke about the history of May Day and the current situation facing workers and society in general in light of growing right-wing domination before the march set off through the city. Accompanied by a samba band and music such as the Warszawianka, frequent stops were made. Comrades spoke about the situation of temporary workers, immigrant workers and the recent mobilizations at the Post Office. Demonstrators chanted slogans against nationalism, the government, capitalism and exploitation. After the demo, an open meeting of ZSP was held.

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The ZSP Wroclaw co-organized a series of events during the May Day weekend. Different talks were organized during the two days before May Day and members of our organization presented different topics and took part in panels. Among the topics were Anarchosyndicalism and social democracy, Power, Ideology and Structure and a panel. An open meeting with ZSP also took place on May Day, after the demonstration.

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May 2 was advertised as a national day of protest of supermarket workers. With much noise, mainstream unions, in particular Solidarity, announced that strikes and protests would happen in supermarkets around Poland. Some other unions announced that they would also protest. ZSP, which is currently fighting for improved conditions and compensation for workers in PoloMarket, decided to also protest on this day.

Unfortunately, despite the announced day of protest, supermarkets were open for business as usual, with only a few slow downs at some cash registers. Instead of protests in front of the markets, only a few union professionals appeared to speak to the press about the „protests”. Due to this fact, some media outlets decided to report on the Polomarket protests, where they could actually speak to working people.

The union protested at three locations in Bydgoszcz, demanding a resolution to the conflict and satisfaction of the workers' claims. Hundreds of leaflets were handed out during the day and some clients expressed support of the protesters. Some decided to do their shopping elsewhere.

More protests are already scheduled in May in a few cities throughout Poland. The union has decided to organize these on the national level, due to the fact that the market has failed to negotiate with workers and continue to press on with a criminal case against one of our activists. The chain of supermarkets is being protested due to various violations of workers rights such as irregularities concerning overtime and lack of breaks in some departments. Another situation where a worker was unfairly dismissed has already been settled by the company.

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On April 26, members of ZSP picketed at the Festival of Educational Innovation in Gdansk, organized by the JMP Foundation. The union has conducted a number of actions against JMP and its founder, Magdalena Majorczyk after a number of workers informed of wage theft practices. Although we were eventually able to get payment last year, other workers contact us about problems with getting paid. Due to the fact that these problems continue, so will the protests.

The event was attended by a few stars and hundreds of school children, whose schools organized outings. After discussions with some teachers who alleged that they were forced to collect money from students and take them to this event, we really wonder what this is all about and how these people fund such grand events but cannot seem to pay people for their labor.

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