In the last few days, Dino Supermarkets have sent several dismissed employees payments for overtime which they had worked in the past. This is an unusual turn in events. Dino is currently being sued for overtime payments by employees dismissed by the company.
After members of ZSP informed the State Labour Inspectorate that Dino was not paying all overtime payments, among other problems, the Inspectorate confirmed these violations and Dino had to start making payments. But this did not concern many old situations where the firm simply did not record the hours worked and it is up to the workers to prove they worked overtime. Many are simply not able to do so but some have taken the chain to court and have a good case against the company.
Although the claims are for larger sums that were sent out, the workers are happy to have received something from the company. However the union warns that what is owed is much more and that the unexplained actions of the supermarket may be an attempt to confuse workers and make them believe that the chain will eventually pay all the money, perhaps in attempt to get them to drop their court cases. The union is monitoring the situation and reminds workers from the chain that it can advise about overtime claims and will continue actions throughout the country against unpaid work, unfair dismissals and other problems in Dino.
Last month, workers from a Warsaw sex shop whose boss disappeared without paying decided to take action. The boss is known to have left workers without pay several times before, in cities around Poland. The boss was seen emptying the shop and when workers arrived, they found an empty store. The boss had said nothing and left the workers and rent unpaid.
People from ZSP managed to track him down, selling the rest of the inventory online and also managed to get him banned from selling on that site. The boss, who had threatened the workers when they phoned him, also threatened us, but we just continued to press for payment. As a result, the workers were paid through bank transfer, although one was underpaid by 177 zl. Therefore we will keep up the search for the boss, warning workers around Poland not to take any work with this cheater.
We stress that this is proof that it is worth taking action, even if the situation looks difficult.
On July 3, workers from the Belchatow hospital travelled to Warsaw to protest the systematic problems which have led to their situation and to try to get intervention on their behalf. The women have been protesting and occupying the hospital for two months since the time about 60 workers found themselves without a job.
Actions took place at the Ministry of Health, the Labour Ministry and the Parliament. At each stop the workers spoke with government representatives, demanding action in their case and changes in the adverse laws and policies which have caused their situation.
The women had previously been employed directly through the hospital but their jobs were outsourced. For most workers in the health services, outsourcing of a job begins a nightmare of precarity and worsening work conditions.
On June 16, there was a meeting of workers, local authorities, the lawyer for the city, the State Labour Inspectorate and the Director of the hospital in the Belchatow hospital where a group of workers have been protesting for some weeks. Other representatives of the ZSP Health Workers Union took part. The meeting was the result of protest actions last week when the workers went to the Voivodship office in Lodz, demanding action on their situation. Unfortunately, neither the company which the women were employed through, Naprzód, or the subsequent contractor dared to show up at the meeting.
The women were cleaners and food servers in the hospital. These services were outsourced and the women had work contracts through Naprzód. When the contract changed, that company claimed they'd be transferred, but the new service provider did not take the women to work, leaving them without any employment, but also without any unemployment benefits as they technically had not been terminated.
One of the results of the meeting was that a new meeting was held on June 17 at the Ministry of Labor. The aim of this meeting is to get around the fact that the women have not been officially terminated and to get financial help for them until the situation is resolved.
At the end of April, 60 women suddenly found themselves unemployed at the hospital in Belchatow. Since then, a large group of them have been fighting to get their jobs back.
The women had already been outsourced from the hospital and had been working there through a company called Cooperative for the Disabled „Naprzod”. This company is no cooperative in the normal sense, but a firm which exploits disabled people, mostly women, across Poland. The contractor at the hospital was changed to another firm called „Dozorbud” and „Naprzod” claimed that the workers had been transferred to the new company. But Dozorbud didn't take most of them to work, instead looking for new hires with no qualifications or experience. Presumably also without any work contracts and on subminimum wages.
Since then, the women have been sitting in at the hospital, demanding their jobs back.
On May 24, workers fighting for their jobs at Belchatow hospital protested in front of their workplace. 60 women have found themselves suddenly without any income after the contractor was changed at the hospital and they were not transferred to the new company.
The women are cleaners and meal servers at the hospital and most have worked there many years. Such workers used to be directly employed by the hospital, but outsourcing has become very popular in the last ten years in Poland. When outsourced, their jobs become much more precarious and on worse working conditions. Although there are laws related to the transfer of employees, companies often ignore them, as was in this case.
The workers were employed through a firm called Naprzod from Krakow which is supposed to be a ¨cooperative¨ for people with disabilities. All of the women working at the hospital have some form of disability, usually minor, that does not interfere with their work at all. Employers get some tax incentives for employing people in this category.
Future actions will take place at this company.
At the end of April, a group of cleaners and kitchen workers from a Belchatow hospital lost their jobs through the callous actions of their employers. Like many workers in public hospitals, their jobs were outsourced, making their work much more precarious. When their company stopped the contract with the hospital and a new company took over, only a few workers were transferred. Around 60 women are left without any work, which their original employer claiming not to be responsible anymore and the new service provider of the hospital claiming they were not obliged to hire them.
Since that time, the women have been fighting for their jobs. Unfortunately, they saw no action from the mainstream unions in the hospital, so we will be supporting, doing some actions together, etc. We decided that we will put the pressure on both firms and the public authorities in general, for the politics of outsourcing.
Protests will take place the next two days in front of the hospital, as well as meetings to discuss further actions.
On May 10, protests were held at two Dino supermarkets in Dopiewo, where workers are fighting against dismissals and other violations of their rights.
Three local employees decided to take action after a number of incidents. In the end, two lost their jobs. A third wants to quit for various reasons. Dino supermarkets have been violating various rights of workers, including forcing them to work overtime while trying not to pay for that, breaking health and safety regulations, etc. etc. Dozens of violations have been confirmed by the State Labour Inspectorate and are reported by workers from all over Poland. Some of the workers are now fighting back and trying to collect money owed to them.
Besides these problems, there have been a number of objectionable dismissals. A number of unionists were fired at the end of last year and in January, including for things like criticizing the market on Facebook. Then, after labour inspections found many violations in Dino markets, some workers were made scapegoats by the management, who blamed them for the problems. (Of course the orders always come from above.) Other people (who perhaps the management fear – for no real reason was given for their dismissal) have lost jobs. In Dopiewo, one woman's contract was not extended and Dino gave absolutely no notice while another was forced to sign a resignation or face a disciplinary dismissal.
On May 11, the organizations EuroMajdan Warszawa and the Open Dialogue Foundation invited representatives of political parties running in the Ukrainian presidential elections to Warsaw. Among them where representatives of the Right Sector and Svoboda. We decided to go to this event and protest.
Our protest had many political layers. We denounce nationalist movements and fascism as the enemy of the working class and explained our opinions on the fighting going on in Ukraine. People are divided into allegiance to nations, a construct which is used to divide and control people. They wind up subjugating common class interests and common resistance to exploiting classes to national ambitions and hatred. We also denounced the role that the Polish state, the CIA and Western capitalists play in funding orange organizations in our city, which support changes of masters for the Ukrainian working class, so desperate to improve their fate that many follow the neoliberal charlatans who would be their new exploiters.
Over the last few months, Impuls agency workers from ZSP (and not affiliated) have been fighting with the temporary work agency for pay they have been owed and also to establish work relationships, in order to receive paid vacations, sick leave and higher salary. ZSP has been campaigning for direct employment of Impuls workers, especially by state and municipal institutions. We see that many of these institutions previously hired such workers directly, but now they chose to pay outside agencies who take a lot of money, but pay very little to the workers.
Many companies and institutions have resigned from their use of the agency. One last institution which uses the agency is the Psychiatric Hospital in Tworki. Workers in the hospital have also been having problems with the agency but we have been able to get at least part of what they are owed paid. The agency still owes workers there money.
ZSP calls on the institution to hire the workers directly. In the upcoming weeks we will be taking more action on this issue and encouraging local authorities to promote better hiring practices in the hospital and to look critically at the effects of the practice of outsourcing.