The FAU delegation had to walk out of a meeting with the Heinrich Boll Foundation on October 11th. The meeting took place after the verdict issued by a Berlin court in September, which stated that the Foundation had used temporary workers illegally and that one of the plaintiffs was in fact a worker directly employed by the Foundation. The meeting was supposed to bring an out-of-court settlement regarding the compensation of the worker already recognized by the court, as well as the status of the remaining workers seeking recognition as direct Heinrich Boll Foundation employees.
Only a few minutes into the negotiations it became clear that the FAU had no other choice but to end the meeting. The managers of the Heinrich Boll Foundation refused to recognize the base union as a partner of negotiations representing the interests of it's members. Instead, the managers wanted to talk with each of our colleagues separately. This strategy was meant to undermine the function of FAU as a union.
So far, the employer has not paid the outstanding salary to the worker who already was recognized by the court and did not react to his expressed readiness to work, thereby creating economic distress for our colleague. The FAU strongly insists on it's role as union and condemns the anti-union stance of the employer.
On Friday October 18th, over 60 members of the FAU union as well as activists from the IWW and ASJ protested against the actions of the management of the Heinrich Boll Foundation, which refused to deal with the union representation and instead tried to talk with each worker separately.
FAU Berlin does not accept the situation where it is not able to negotiate in the name of its members with the employer. Only a week earlier the Foundation refused any talks whatsoever with FAU-Berlin. The worker who was retroactively recognized as employee of the Foundation has not received compensation since September.
The picket took place during the Congress about the Future of the Youth. Since young people are especially vulnerable to precarization, a protest against precarious working conditions and anti-union policies seemed well timed. The Foundation had previously announced that they would change their employment model, but instead, they have just changed their outsourcing provider and, as it turns out, the employees of that new outsourcing firm will be paid even less than the colleagues who were fired previously.
In the first week of September, members of different syndicalist organizations organized actions against the precarious working conditions in Heinrich Boll Foundation all over Europe. The branches of the Foundation and events organized by the Foundation were visited by activists in Prague, Brussels, Belgrade and Warsaw. The precarious working conditions at the Foundation were brought to the public's attention.
During the international week of actions, the following events took place:
In Köln, the FAU section made a poster action at the house where Heinrich Böll lived.
In Berlin, a direct action took place during a conference of the Heinrich Boll Foundation and the public was informed about the fight and the situation. At the labour court trial, which also took place in Berlin, about 20 observers were present. After the positive verdict, the passersby were informed about the claim and the court's decision.
In Prague, an action was organized by the Czechoslovak Anarchist Federation at the local office of the Foundation. The picketers demanded the reinstatement of all colleagues who were fired at pay at the proper rates. Later on, the Slovakian Priama Akcia visited the office of the Foundation and gave a protest letter against precarious working conditions and anti-union policies of the management of the Foundation.
In Lisbon, the Portuguese Associação Internacional dos Trabalhadores - Secção Portuguesa sent emails to the Heinrich Böll Fund demanding reinstatement and payment of wages according to the collective agreements.
In Brussels, the Dutch organization Vrije Bond organized a demonstration at the local office of the Heinrich Boll Foundation.
In Frankfurt, the FAU Frankfurt confronted the deputies from the Green Party about the precarious working conditions in the Foundation during a public discussion meeting.
In Halle, the local Foundation branch had organized a movie screening. The local members of the FAU handed out leaflets with information about the conflict and the successful court resolution to participants. FAU-Halle also had a talk with a politician of the Green Party after which, the passers by were informed about the conflict.
In Belgrade, the Serbian Anarho-sindikalistička inicijativa (ASI) made a leafleting action in front of the Belgrade office of the Heinrich Boll Foundation, informing about the conflict. Many of the passersby reacted with sympathy.
In Warsaw, the union Związek Syndykalistów Polski (ZSP) organized a picket at a conference organized by the Green Party and distributed leaflets to the participants of the conference and talked to them about the conflict and the developments in the legal case against the Foundation.