Amazon workers are on strike in Germany because of the lousy work conditions. The corporation decided that Poland would be a better place to find desperate workers, willing to slave for a quarter of the pay in Germany. However workers are already quitting due not only to the tough conditions but problems with payment. Workers are organizing with ZSP to get their salaries. A group of workers from Sady are the first demanding their payments.
Reports from Sady and Bielany Wroclawskie show that many workers have had problems with their payments – late payments, incorrect payment, lack of social security payments, etc. etc. In addition, some workers are not getting all the overtime they are entitled to and the company is using a three-month accounting period to calculate this. This means that somebody might work 200 hours one month but never see an overtime payment.
Many of the staff were hired through Manpower agency and, according to the act on remporary employment agencies, they are responsible for the timely payment of the workers, even if Amazon doesn't pay. Since the workers in question have contracts through the Manpower office in Warsaw, ZSP will be visiting and demanding payments. Visits to Amazon are also planned in the future. In the meanwhile, we are spreading the news about the problems at Amazon and Manpower and calling on people to support the workers!
Over 100 people have received two year work contracts as cleaners and food servers in Belchatow hospital. This work was sent to outside companies some while ago and the outside companies started downsizing and putting people on trash contracts where workers were not entitled to paid vacations, sick leave or even a legal minimum wage.
At the end of April, the new contractor who had won the tender, did not accept the transfer of all workers, although it is obligatory under the labour code. 60 people were suddenly without a job, without any notice. Instead, new workers were hired on trash contracts. Members of our union in Belchatow struggled for 3 months, occupying the hospital and organizing different protest actions. As a result, a new contractor was found and all of them were hired on normal work contacts, with all due benefits and a guaranteed miminum wage.
Problems happened again in October, when people lost their jobs and the workers were supposed to do more work to cover. At the same time, some people were forced to work 200 hours a month and the company introduced more trash contracts. Some workers were now receiving less than half the minimum wage or even lower salaries, with absolutely no benefits or guarantees.
On November 3, 130 workers went on strike, demanding reinstatement of their colleagues and other changes. The company agreed to many of the demands, to rehire people and increase the amount of staff.
Now it turns out that a larger group of people where given normal work contacts. But not everybody has acted in an organized way, and trash contracts are still being used – probably for as much as a third of the staff.
On December 1, our comrade Magda won another case against the Dino supermarket. As a result of the case, she will be receive money for overtime, which she had to work from Oct. 2012-July 2013. The final sum paid by the supermarket was even more than her original claim. Earlier in the year, the supermarket paid her for other overtime hours occuring between August and December 2014.
The supermarket, due to actions from the ZSP campaign, was ordered to make other overtime payments earlier in the year and had to change their practice. There were also some payments to former workers as well, in Barcin (where Magda worked) and in the Kujawsko-Pomorski and Opole regions.
These results hopefully will show that it is worth taking action. It is also clear that the yellow unions which function in the market (Solidarity and the union formed by management) have failed to fight for the interest of workers and ZSP is an effective alternative.
ZSP continues its cases against Dino and other former workers are claiming overtime. We also continue to fight for Madga's reinstatement and for compensation for other workers who were unfairly dismissed or mobbed at work.
The ZSP Multi-Branch Union in Warsaw is preparing a legal challenge to the fact that workers on fixed-term contracts enjoy less protection than those on indefinite contracts. With Poland being the European leader in the use of temporary contracts, such matters effect a large part of the working population.
For years employers have enjoyed supportive rulings which hold that not extending a fixed-term contract is not equal to dismissal. According to ZSP, in such a way, they have been able to conduct what are actually discriminatory dismissals, without any consequence. This is especially true in the case of unionists, who are often discriminated against in the workplace. For this reason, workers on fixed-term contracts may be afraid to seek union affiliation because they may not have their contracts extended.
On November 3, cleaners and meal servers from Belchatow Hospital refused to work in response to a number of serious issues at the hospital. The first issue was that around 30 people lost their job. The level of employment at the hospital was cut drastically, forcing many workers to take extra shifts and work much more intensively. Members of the ZSP union at the hospital decided to take action.
The main demand was that these people be reinstated in their jobs and employment be raised. Last year around 170 people were employed. The cleaning and food service work is provided by an outside company and this company has changed 3 times in the past year. Each time more and more people lose their jobs or get put on worse contracts.
The workers demanded a meeting with the boss and he arrived from Warsaw to try to get them back to work. Instead hours of negotiations took place. The hospital would have been evacuated if no agreement was reached. In the end, the boss agreed to have 160 workers. The workers demanded that their colleagues be reinstated and that there will be no firings related to the action.
Cleaners and kitchen staff from Belchatow Hospital will start an indefinite strike on Monday, November 3. The action was called due to the fact that several people on sick leave lost their jobs. The women were workers with disabilities and part of the ZSP union in the hospital. The company servicing the hospital, which employs these women and about 100 other people in the hospital continued to cut staff and in all, 30 people lost their jobs. The rest of the workers decided to join the strike and on Monday, 140 people will walk off the job. The Director may have to evacuate the hospital.
The members of the ZSP union won their jobs back after the last service provider did not accept their transfer. They spent three months unemployed, occupying the hospital and protesting. Finally, a new public tender was held for the services and the women were rehired. However this company also is trying to cut the staff and force the rest of the workers to take on their tasks. The average working time in the hospital is 200 hours per month. Workers with disabilities are entitled to a 35-hour work week.
Various problems occurred when some people took sick leave or wanted to take leave for rehabilitation. (All of the women in the ZSP union have some sort of disability.) Although it is illegal to fire people on sick leave and people with disabilities must not be forced to do a lot of extra work and must be given time for rehabilitation, the price for doing so could be their job.
On Oct. 15, ZSP organized a picket in front of Citibank headquarters in Warsaw in relation to charges of mobbing, discrimination and sexual harrassment. Three workers have brought legal action against the bank, but some workers claim this is just the tip of the iceberg.
One of the workers took a paternity leave. When a parent is on maternity or paternity leave, they are supposed to be able to come back to their jobs, but they hired someone in his place and he was given some other work. He complained about it but the bank did not rectify the situation. They tried to give him money not to bring a suit against the company but since he did not want to agree, the company fired him.
As part of the international day of action against Santander Bank, ISBAN and Panel sistemas, a picket was held in front of a Santander Bank in Wroclaw, in solidarity with the dismissed activist from the CNT union. The members of ZSP Wroclaw blocked the entrance to the bank in the center of the city for a while. A protest letter was handed in to a representative of the bank.
The IWA (which the ZSP and CNT belong to) has been organizing an international protest campaign in this bank. Besides the repression of the union member, there are different problems with the working conditions. For example, many workers are outsourced to a company owned by Santander but, since they are outsourced, they have less job security. They also have lower pay, forced overtime, etc. About 10,000 workers are in this situation.
Solidarity actions have taken place in many places around the world, including Spain, France, Portugal, Norway, Great Britian, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico, Chile and the USA. Protest letters also have come from countries without the presence of these companies, like Slovakia or Russia.
On August 31, activists from ZSP visited events organized in Gdansk by „Solidarity” to commemorate the strike of 1980 and the opening of a new European Solidarity Center on the terrain of the now near-defunct Gdansk shipyards. These events were attended by various union and church leaders as well as the President of Poland, Komorowski. It was a very high-profile event which many people from the public also attended.
The reasons to protest at this event were many. „Solidarity” did a lot to betray the workers of Poland. After fighting to „overthrow communism”, as they say, the Solidarity government went on a hardline course to restructure the economy, negatively affecting the next generations of workers. Currently it is acting as a manager of the working class to make sure it does not take any resolute measures against the economic regime which it helped to build. But our main reason to go to this event was to protest the actions of the union in relation to Dino supermarket and to protest this type of business unionism.
To briefly describe what happened at Dino, at the end of 2013, some women formed a Solidarity union at the supermarket. 12 of them lost their jobs very quickly – mostly the ones who wrote about improper working conditions on the internet. A local Solidarity bureaucrat negotiated with the supermarket, without the presence of those involved and an agreement was made to take only one person back to work. (She is currently the chair of the tiny Solidarity union.) Then complaints that were filed to the State Labour Inspectorate were withdrawn, negative comments disappeared from the internet page and evidence of violations which were sent to the union disappeared.
ZSP has since been fighting to improve things in the supermarket. It has made pickets and has started some legal cases. Thanks to the actions of our M. and the union, Dino is now paying overtime and has made some improvements. Overtime payments from past work was also paid.
A group of almost 250 waitstaff, cooks and kitchen help will finally see the money they earned while working at the hotel Double Tree by Hilton in Warsaw. The money was earned a couple of months ago but not paid. After a couple of the workers finally decided to take action, it seems that the conflict could be resolved rather quickly.
The first steps was an article in the press and one the ZSP website, followed by a visit to the hotel. Within 2 hours of our visit, we were contacted by the hotel management and a resolution was soon to follow.
The staff were hired through the agency AG+, which specializes in catering for events. The hotel, which is run by a company called Polaris, was just opening and, according to its business model, hires outside staff for events, especially conferences and weddings. After one month of work, the hotel did not want to pay, complaining about the services and offering a lower rate of pay for the workers. What followed next was a dispute in which the agency and the hotel were accusing and blaming each other and the workers were just not paid.