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New Results of Strike Action in Belchatow

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.

We consider these real improvements in getting back normal working conditions to be a result of the determined action of the union. However, the situation is not ideal. The contract through the public tender will only last 2 more years, so that is the length of the contract. According to the law, these employees are automatically transfered to the next service provider, but as we see, companies routinely break this law, often with no consequences. But members of the union are also fighting in court to get what they were owed from the time they were, according to their former employer, „not employed”.

There is also the very big question of the workers still on trash contracts, who haven't organized themselves to demand normal work contracts and did not want to strike with that demand. We hope that this situation can change in the future.