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Czech State Forests and the Exploitation of Migrant Workers

The following is a translation of an article which appeared in the Czech bi-weekly Nový Prostor. It is an awful story of the exploitation of immigrant labour in the Czech Republic. Hundreds of migrant workings received no pay or only partial pay for their work in Czech State Forests.

But this is not only the story of these cheated workers. Behind this story is also the trend towards the casualization of labour in the state sector and attempts to save money in areas that neoliberals don't see as "profitable", such as the conservation of forests. It is also the story of problems connected to public tenders and spending EU money, which often combines with a high level of corruption and profiteering.

FAU and ZSP Organize International Day of Action at OBI Stores in Poland and Germany

On February 25-26, pickets took place in nearly 20 cities in Poland and Germany, protesting against bad working conditions and union repression in OBI.

Interview with a Worker from Fiat, Tychy

A member of ZSP interviews a comrade from the Fiat plant in Tychy, Poland.

A- Can you tell us a little bit about the work conditions in Fiat?

X- In general, they are bad. The atmosphere is very tense. Salaries are different, depending on the job and other factors. I have worked there in a skilled job over 15 years and I get less than 500 euros a month, net. Many people get 350, 400 euros. I know that the people who do this work in Italy receive 4 or even 5 times more salary.

Problems with the Otto Temp Agency

Over the last few years, there have been tons of complaints about the practices of the Otto Workforce temp agency, in particular from Poles being sent to work abroad in Holland. It has found itself on at least one internet blacklist as an agency which cheats workers. Some people who work there or worked there in the past, have contacted AGA and ZSP about various problems, asking what they can do. At the very least, they ask us to warn people and inform them of their rights and what can be done if they are cheated.

Indesit Verdict Typical of Justice System

While some may think the fact that bosses were convicted at all is something of a "victory" for workers' rights, we are reminded of the dozens and dozens of people, sometimes randomly picked up at demonstrations who wound up doing more jail time that the five bosses convicted for manslaughter for the death of a worker in the Indesit factory in Lodz.

Go Slow Strike Against Mondragon Capitalists at FagorMastercook

Workers at FagorMastercook in Wroclaw, part of the Mondragon group exploiting in cheap labour countries, are on go-slow strike until at least the end of the week.

Workers complain that, despite a 500% increase in turnover, salaries have stagnated. An experienced worker makes only about 1800 zloties brutto (1400 netto - about 450 euros gross, 350 euros net). People have been fighting for raises of 300 zloties (75 euros); workers with 5 years or more experience received only a 50 zloty (12.5 euro) raise this year. The management claims that some people will receive more, but so far, workers complain that only the management is making more money.

Workers point out that salaries in other production jobs in the city are much higher.

Owners of Biedronka, Jeronimo Martins, richer thanks to exploitation in Poland

The "Jornal de Negocios" informs that the owners of the firm Jeronimo Martins, owners of the infamouse supermarket chain Biedronka, earned 1,5 billion euros last year. The paper reports that the wealth of the Soares dos Santos family, main owners of the firm, increased by 63% last year, in large part due to expansion in Poland.

Bosses above the Law

If the State Labour Inspectorate finds evidence that a crime has been committed at a workplace, it should inform the Public Prosecutor's Office. Such crimes would include things like criminal negligence, when an employee has endangered the life of a worker. They do not always report such things, but even if they do, the Public Prosecutor rarely pursues the case. What's more, the cases that do go to court are usually dismissed.

The statistics tell it all: from January - November 2010, the Labour Inspectorate files 1082 notifications to the Public Prosecutor's Office. Of these, they only decided to press charges in 70 cases. Only 12 bosses have been found guilty of any crime this year.

PKS Suwalki Must Reinstate Unionists

The bus company PKS Suwalki must reinstate two unionists who were fired for speaking out in the press against the management. Jaroslaw Zaborowski and Boguslaw Brynda were fired in April 2010 for "acting to the detriment of the company". However the Labour Court reinstated both to work. The boss, Stanislaw Bilda, was fined 2000 euros for the illegally firing.

There should also be a case against him for misappopriating money from the workers' social fund.

Solidarity to the Struggling Workers of PKS Suwalki

On the Role of State Institutions in Collaborating Against Workers' Action

For months there have been problems between the workers of PKS Suwalki and the management. PKS Suwalki is a bus company employing over 400 people, which also operates in Elk, Augustow, Olecko, Goldap and Sejny. It was commericalized in 2006 but was still owned by the State Treasury. Then it was unclear whether or not it would be privatized; in the end it was taken over by the Voivodship and remains a public entity.

Solidarity with Bus Drivers of MZK Kedzierzyn-Kozle

Better Public Transport, Better Working Conditions in All our Interest

We have been informed of the situation of municipal bus drivers in Kedzierzyn-Kozle. This year they were not given the 5% wage increase they had been promised in 2009. Besides this, the "motivational bonuses", which were an important part of their salary, were "unofficially liquidated" - in other words, nobody has received these since February.

Wildcat Strike at Lvov Stadium Building Site

On Nov. 26, about 100 workers on the site of the Euro2012 Stadium construction site in Lvov went on strike. The workers, who are employed by a firm called Comfortbud, haven't been paid for three months.

The workers had problems organizing a protest. Workers were threatened with dismissal so only a fraction joined in the protest. Then, the striking workers decided that they wanted to hold a picket - but the security guards at the building site blocked them from leaving. The direction of the general contracting firm, Vasyl Ohorodnik of Altkomkievbud, then claimed that there was never any strike.

"Nobody picket. I would never in my life allow somebody to picket at my site."

Protest of Hospital Sanitary Workers in Starachowice

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A group of orderlies from a hospital in Starachowice have been protesting for a week over plans to outsource their work to a private firm. About 30 people have been taking part in the protest which has included wearing black shirts to work, blocking the offices of the director of the hospital, taking off work to protest and holding a hunger strike.

The orderlies have gathered about 3000 signatures on a petition supporting them and have demanded the dismisal of the director of the hospital. All the unions functioning in the hospital support the protest and postulates of the workers.

We're pissed off - Priama akcia leaflet for the union demonstration against government austerity measures

Priama akcia handed out this leaflet at the demonstration against government austerity measures organized by the biggest union confederation on 12th October 2010 in Bratislava. It was the third union action in the autumn preceded by around 1500 strong demos in Košice (1st October) and Žilina (8th October). Over 5000 unionists met in the capital. PDF of the leaflet in Slovak can be downloaded from the English section at PA website.

WE'RE PISSED OFF
Government measures can not make us feel otherwise. But we will not whimper. It is important to realize what situation we are in and what can be done.

The point of demonstrations against reforms

Strike is the Only Reasonable Dialogue with the Bosses

Leaflet for demonstration, Sept. 29 in Warsaw.

The so-called "economic crisis" in Poland was a boom for the bosses. Although there was actually economic growth in this country - in contrast to some other places in the world - the crisis served as a pretext for mass dismissals and worsening work conditions. As we can see, often the dismissals were made only to get rid of full-time workers with benefits and replace then with temporary ones. Working people saw how this was happening, yet all the time we were hearing lies from the bosses and being told we should be happy to have any job