Pracujesz na umowie śmieciowej? Możemy pomóc!

ZSP: There is no equality in capitalism

On July 17, ZSP Warsaw union formed part of an anti-capitalist bloc at this year's Equality (Pride) Parade, together with the Warsaw Anarchist Formation, the Collective of Relentless Help and a group of radical sex workers. The bloc eventually numbered around 200 people and was probably the most political one; uniquely in the parade, it discussed class elements and the problems of the working class, especially of LGBTQIA+ workers and sex workers. ZSP's main slogans were “there is no equality in capitalism” and “queer in the workers' struggle” while the sex workers also had several slogans concerning their situation as workers.

Over the last two decades, the parade has transformed from a small parade of hardcore activists, usually attacked by nazis and the extreme right to a large mainstream event. While this certainly attests to some progress in mainstreaming LGBTQIA+ status and rights, which is something positive, on the other hand, now the majority of the trucks going in the parade are organized by corporations, (predominantly horrible banks like Citibank, etc.) and mostly the march is filled with pop music. Politics, if present at all, is in the background, drowned out by the corporate-sponsored discos.

This being the atmosphere, even though some members of ZSP were active in this event in its early years, we don't often participate as a group. However, this year was different. First, we noted the rise in hate in this country, particularly against transgender people. Second, we have been very vocal about some particular sources of hatred and incidents.

The first growing phenomenom that we notice is the rise of TERFs among some feminists, who now are basically in bed with the far-right in their hatred crusade. We find these attacks especially offensive and hope to encourage a radical class feminism which can counter the dangerous ideology of the TERFs. Secondly, we would like to show our support for groups such as Sex Work Polska, which in Warsaw became victim to the violent transphobic and anti-worker pogrom carried out in 2022.

Sex Work Polska had been meeting in the Syrena social space where a large feminist and queer collective was living. There had been some conflict over authoritarian and violent people who the collective did not want living there and eventually, members of the nearby Przychodnia space (including, among others, members of Warsaw's Workers' Initiative), carried out a violent pogrom of the queer people and sex workers, taking over the building and not even allowing them to take their own things. Over the next months, we heard lots of transphobic comments and anti-sex worker comments from members of that space, of the Rozbrat space in Poznan and from members of the Workers' Initiative and Warsaw's Tenants' Association (which most people assume came from some of the individuals involved, including the authoritarian former Syrena space members. Some more information about this can be found here:

Following this pogrom, supported by the right-wing elements that infiltrate the social movements, there was an increased attack on sex-workers coming from reactionary feminism, in particular the group “Bez” Association. It is no coincidence that one of the main representatives (or leaders) of this group is also a member of the Warsaw Workers Initiative connected to the pogromists of Przychodnia center, a supporter of the pogrom. Like the socially conservatives activists of the Russian anarchists movement a decade or more before who claimed that such issues like gay rights are not “real” working class issues, the tone of all the criticism was to claim that they would fight for “real” social issues and to heavily stigmatize the sex workers, focusing on women (and usually not even mentioning men who are in this line of work). As such, they keep in line with prudish misogyny against women.

Sex Work Polska is one of only a very few independent workers' organizations in Poland so we were happy that they wanted to go to the Parade in defense of their interests and rights as workers and give visibility to their issues. However, the anti-worker Dworkinists of “Bez” also applied to be a bloc at this year's parade. In response, a petition was started to the organizers of the Parade which was signed by a surprising large number of organizations, including the organizers of the March 8 demo, a large feminist event. So we see that quite of lot of different feminists are very concerned about both TERFs and organizations like “Bez” which do so much to stigmatize women, to the joy of the far-right extremists.

Due to the large amount of protest against the “Bez” Association, the organizers excluded them from the demonstration. This, along with the rise of reactionary ideas in certain Warsaw organizations most likely explains why you couldn't see any sign of any other workers' organizations on the march.

Given the above, we think that the presence of the anti-capitalist bloc, with strong radical and worker's slogans was quite necessary, especially as other workers' organizations are not up to the task given the conservativism and phobias of some of their membership.

ZSP handed out hundreds of leaflets with QR codes where people could download information about problems of LGBTQIA+ people at work and also more general information, for example, for workers who are casually or illegally employed. (The number of which are quite high in the among queer people.)

Continuing with these topics, we will be organizing an international workshop-discussion in July aimed at discussing the special problems of LGBTQIA+ people in the workplace and how we can start fighting back.