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Solidarity Picket for FAU/HBS Conflict at Social Europe Congress

On September 7, the Polish Green Party and the Heinrich Boll Foundation were co-organizers, with two unions, of the Social Europe Congress in Warsaw. The FAU Berlin had called for a week of international solidarity actions to support the workers in conflict with the Heinrich Boll Foundation and we chose to do it at this event.

Prior to the Congress, there had been some tension with some members of the Polish Green Party who both defended the Foundation and tried to marginalize and dismiss the conflict as something started by anarchosyndicalists. There was an article dismissing direct action and stating that only participating in politics made any sense. The head of the local Green Party also wrote something insinuating that the conflict was being used as part of the German election campaign and that maybe we were acting in the favour of Die Linke. Then the Polish Foundation published a new statement trying to act dismissively of the situation and accusing the FAU and ZSP of acting "politically" against the Green Party. We responded to all of these things, trying to show how they were using different ways to avoid addressing the real issue.

The day before the Congress, we published the information that the first case against Boll Foundation went to court in Berlin and it was decided that the outsourcing was not done legally and the worker should be considered an employee of the Foundation since 2011. We mentioned that surely the next 3 cases would end with the same judgment, plus any new cases that the other workers bring. All of the former employees lost their jobs when HBS changed the service provider.

People attending the Congress were interested in the case and spoke to us about it. Many people took leaflets, including Parliamentarians, union leaders, journalists and Green Party leaders and members. The people from the Green Party we spoke to expressed the opinion that they hope the Foundation will avoid such situations and were sad that it was handled in such a way that they had a worker conflict. There were only a couple of exceptions, of Green Party activists who were angry at the picket, but they seemed to be in the minority.

We handed out different leaflets. We made an issue of Direct Action for the picket, mostly on this conflict. We also had leaflets in German and English since there were foreign guest speakers. We had the most recent press release of FAU Berlin and the Berlin labour court printed out for those who could read German. Unfortunately we did not have time to translate them before the action, but we will do that at publish them on our pages.

We think that this solidarity campaign had some effect because it created a lively debate amongst different people, including Green Party members. It obviously was an inconvenient topic for the Boll Foundation, since it felt obliged to issue different statements on the matter and try to justify the situation. ZSP, as probably the only workers' organization that has been fighting against outsourcing in general (and not just in some particular cases), thought it very important to support our comrades in their struggle and to raise awareness of the abuse of casual labour in a country where it is considered "normal". We are happy that they are making progress and wish them further success in their struggles.

Copy of Direct Action (in Polish):