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Following the national protest of postal workers in Warsaw on April 8, a national meeting was held the following week in Lodz to formalize the network and adopt a libertarian form of organization, based on our principles of direct democracy, leaderless unions and mandated and recallable delegates.

The meeting was the third national gathering, after the ones in Wroclaw and Warsaw which prepared the demands to the Post Office, the decentralized actions in March and the demonstration in April.

The postal workers would like to push forward their postulates and continue organizing outside the mainstream unions which have continually sidetracked the workers to pact with the bosses. The Post Office does not want to talk about these postulates, relying on the bigger unions not to protest. Instead the PO has stepped up PR about how important it is to improve working conditions, but always claiming they „cannot afford it”. The workers know better and will not back down.

Demands were also sent to the Ministry responsible for the Post Office as well as the government. They have sent them on for discussion but still have made no attempts to talk to the dissatisfied workers.

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The situation with Polomarket is growing more tense as the market continues attempts to criminalize workers and has not negotiated with them as promised. Following a visit to their headquarters and a settlement with an unfairly dismissed worker, the chain had promised to speak to other workers about their demands. Unfortunately, these assurances turned out to be hollow. Instead of talking and trying to resolve the conflict, the market continues to send spies after workers, in a vain attempt to harrass and intimidate those protesting. What's more is that they are proceeding with a criminal case against one of the former workers, acting as if they were the victims in the whole matter.

At the end of April, a protest took part in Gdansk at a local Polomarket. At the beginning of May, three supermarkets were protested in Bydgoszcz. Actions are planned to continue as long as the chain maintains their current behaviour.

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On April 19, Rafal appeared at the Regional Court in Bydgoszcz to defend himself against a „criminal” case brought against him by Polomarket. The supermarket chain is trying to make complaints about their practices in relation to workers go away by attempting to intimidate those who speak out. Rafal actually faces a prison sentence for exposing practices such as not giving breaks to workers, forcing them to work overtime or forcing them to transport goods in their own cars after hours – despite the fact that many of these practices have been either documented or confirmed by the Labor Inspectorate.

Thanks to solidarity shown with Rafal, we were able to provide good legal defense for him. As it turned out, the defense was so good that the lawyers for Polomarket were not prepared and asked the case to be postponed. The Court gave them a few weeks. In the meanwhile, the market, which has not settled claims made to them by the union, tries to find more „evidence” against Rafal by stalking methods, sending two spies out to film protests, harrassing and trying to intimidate anybody who speaks out.

In response, ZSP will step up the protests at the chain.

Enough Repression!
Solidarity is our Weapon!

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At the beginning of March, members of the ZSP union of PoloMarket workers appeared at the headquarters of the supermarket chain in Giębnia to demand to be heard, especially concerning the case of Jola, who was unfairly dismissed. http://zsp.net.pl/action-polomarket-headquarters Following this, protests took place at several markets http://zsp.net.pl/protests-continue-polo-market-chain-declares-it-wants-.... Two days later, the company decided to settle the case to the satisfaction of the worker.

ZSP congratulates the workers for their success and wish them luck in their continued struggle.

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Workers Push Forward while the Post and Solidarity Slap them in the Face

On April 8, 2017, a couple of thousand postal workers from all over Poland converged in Warsaw, demanding raises, reorganization of their work regions and the reinstatement of two fired colleagues.

Workers have been coordinating outside of the mainstream, representative unions, which, in their opinion, do not represent their interests. A number of actions, including work stoppages of different kinds, have taken place across Poland in the past year. We have been coordinating workers at the national level and organized two meetings, in Wroclaw and then in Warsaw, where postal workers from all over the country took part. At the first meeting in Wroclaw, a couple of months ago, demands were formulated and later ratified by groups of workers from many cities. It was agreed that the demands would be sent to the post office, with a call for a response and that decentralized protests would be held all over Poland on March 16. Workers agreed that if there was no response to the demands, that things would only escalate.

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On April 1-2 the ZSP held its 11th Congress and 10th Anniversary event in Warsaw. The event took place on Sunday and consisted of presentations and films of different actions that ZSP organized over the years. These included not only many workplace conflicts and a few strikes, but also we presented some other types of activity such as anti-militarist actions and protests against price increases and for free public transport. This was interesting for some newer people who didn't know about a lot of these social actions. There was also a discussion about how ZSP is different than other unions and what the role of certain unions actually are today. This was important as in the hall were a few people who were betrayed by other unions and who could speak directly to that (as well as a few people from a couple of those other unions who maybe were interested in what we had to say). Finally, there was a presentation of some current conflicts, such as at the Post Office or Polomarket where the workers involved talked about their situations and struggles. One of the speakers was recently fired from the Post Office for his role in organizing protests and another is being repressed by Polomarket for speaking out about the working conditions. (The firm has brought a criminal case against him.) We spoke about the need for solidarity in these and other struggles.

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10 Years of ZSP

ZSP was founded on March 31, 2007. Since then it has evolved to become a unique force in this country and a new model of workers' organization and direct action.

The organization was founded in Gliwice by a small group of a dozen like-minded people who saw the need for an anarchosyndicalist organization in Poland. The social conditions for creating such an organization were against us: the ideas of the organization, in many ways, went against the grain of everything people thought and the patterns of behaviour in society. What's more, such issues were present in the movements we had been involved with. Over the past decade, the organization has proven not only to be a reference for ideas, but also an example of workers' action in practice. The union has accomplished a lot in this period, including the organization and support of successful strikes outside the collaborationist schemes of the state and capital, the resolution of dozens of work conflicts where normal unions could do nothing and most recently, inspiring the coordination of workers against the treachery of the mainstream unions.

The union also has gone into areas that others had not (although later, some others followed). It was the first to help coordinate some actions of immigrant workers and react to the exploitation of Polish workers abroad. It made actions and campaigns concerning agency workers and even workers who had no contracts. It also sought to provide a platform for categories of workers who are normally underpresented in union activity. The union has a large female membership and many of its members are persons with disabilities.

Besides its activities with workers, the union as been active in other areas, significantly, in organizing tenants and pointing out the role of politicians and those working for the government in privatization scandals. Members of ZSP also are active in work concerning anti-fascism and anti-nationalism and in general work against all forms of discrimination.

On the weekend of our anniversary, we will celebrate our Congress and a public meeting where we will look back at our history and speak about current struggles. We are hoping that sometime later in the year we can compile a review of some of the more important actions.

Finally, we would like to send our best wishes to comrades all over the world from the International Workers' Association, with whom we share mutual aspirations. In particular, those from Spain who are struggling to maintain and rebuild the anarchosyndicalist movement in that country after the wrong turns and verticalization taken by some. We point out that at one point, at the beginning of our history, some comrades in Spain represented a model for us while many people around us got lost in top-down, legalistic practices, infected by collaborationism, electoralism and populism. We hope that the power of our common ideas will stand up against the current tide and that we all find new strength to go forward with our struggles.

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On March 23, the HR department of the Polish Post Office sent a letter to the management of the branches instructing them to bother workers about the necessity of caring for the good of the employer. This refers to the activities and protests of postal workers which the management has been trying to squash through scare tactics and repression, including the dismissal of one mailman and the possible dismissal of another.

The letter states:

In relation to the posts put on social media and the Intranet which have offensive comments about managers or their co-workers and into order to extinguish operational risks connected to the workers showing posters about raises during working hours, with the logo of the post office in the background, we inform that the above actions constitute a serious violation of work duties. These violations are set out in art. 100 para.2, pt. 4 of the Labor Code, which is the duty to care about the work place, which is connected with the widely understood interests of the employers (not only financial, which is connected to the obligation that the worker be loyal to the employer.

In light of the above, we ask that you make the workers aware and to take disciplinary measures against those who personally took part in such actions. The workers should be made aware of the fact that the good name and interests of the Post Office have been violated and to inform them that the employer, in justified situations, can terminate the employment agreement for reasons related to the fault of the worker.

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A self-organized movement has revolted against the mainstream unions and is set to continue despite repression.

On March 16, a couple of thousand postal workers from 22 cities in Poland organized the largest decentralized workers actions outside the mainstream unions in recent history. Protests started at 7AM and took place at different hours in the day, with a few reaching several hundred participants. The main demands of the workers are a raise of 1000 zloties and reorganization of the regions.

The working conditions at the post office are tragic, especially for mail carriers. Wages hover just slightly above minimum wage, meaning the basic pay one takes home is a little less than 350 euros. Many mail carriers who have worked 15, 20 or even 30 years earn basically the same. What's worse is that the conditions are hard and most are overworked. With wages at supermarkets now being even 1000 zloties higher, it is very hard to find new people to work there. It is probably for this reason that the government has decided to use prison labor to make up for the shortage.

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On March 12, protests were held outside of POLO Markets in Unislaw, Osielsko and Bydgoszcz. Workers demand that working hours are properly accounted and paid for, that workers are treated with more respect, without harrassment and that health and safety measures are followed. Former workers also have concrete claims against the supermarket chain, especially for unpaid overtime.

At the beginning of the year, current and former employees of the market organized themselves and composed a list of demands. In February, three pickets were held in Bydgoszcz. The supermarket chain responded badly by trying to intimidate workers, ordering them not to contact ZSP, sending spies to the demonstration to film workers and by bringing a criminal case against one former employee for supposedly slandering the company. At the same time, as we initiated a court case for unfair dismissal of one woman, the company stated they would like to talk to her – but were not exactly eager to talk to the union about all the cases. Members of the union therefore went to the corporate headquarters of the supermarket. After talks there, the supermarket publically declared in press statements that it would like to settle accounts with the dismissed worker and offer appropriate compensation.

We are not sure what the market was thinking, but the union considers that numerous people had their rights violated and that the chain should pay them money owed. We have heard rumors that they were „surprised” that we still protest after their gesture towards only one of the affected workers.

Members of the union will meet this week with the company to settle the first case, but also to discuss the rest of the claims and demands. We see that they are trying to separate everything and use some typical manoeuvres but the conflict is not over until we all cases are treated and changes are made. The workers have stated that they are willing to sit down and talk with the chain, but if the supermarket does not show good will, the protests will continue.

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