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Protest During „Solidarity” Events in Gdansk

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 Then complaints that were filed to the State Labour Inspectorate were withdrawn, negative comments disappeared from the internet page and evidence of violations which were sent to the union disappeared.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.

There are many people who do not support how Solidarity acted in this situation and this includes some of their active members. Solidarity professionals have been busy defending their union's reputation by rationalizing what they did, by insulting the ZSP and using the arguments of the bosses against our colleague. But there is a big difference between how a rank and file member might react and the outrageous responses of the bureaucracy. We started our action by handing out leaflets and papers at the hall where „Solidarity” chair Piotr Duda was supposed to speak. We were there about 2 hours and we received many positive reactions from both the public and Solidarity activists. In any case, during that whole time, nobody reacted negatively or agressively towards us.

Instead of coming to the specially prepared hall where the speech was supposed to be made, the ECS museum, which was supposedly to be open to the public on these days, was closed down and VIPs made speeches behind closed doors. After a while, we decided to change the place we were protesting. When we left, Duda probably got the clearance to finally go to the auditorium. But somebody noticed him, despite the fact that he was well hidden by an escort of priests and bodyguards.

We quickly backtracked but only a couple of us caught up to Duda, and he quickly disappeared, ordering security and his underlings to keep us away. All of a sudden, some union professionals appear, determined to keep us out. One guy, who seemed to be the most intent, called the police on us. It was a little absurd. The Secret Service was all around since the President was there and even they saw no reason to react against us, but the Solidarity bureaucrats called for 2 vans of police. When the police also saw no reason to do anything against us, one of the bureaucrats called some nationalist thugs in. The thugs kept going over and talking to this bureucrat and then came and tried to provoke us into a fight. They then tried (unsuccessfully) to scare us by calling up their friends and trying to intimidate us with violence. This is the second time in the past year that we have encountered such thugs threatening to beat us up to protect Solidarity. We are extremely critical of the fact that not only is this union politically right-wing, but that some of its high-placed cadres are actively pursuing links with fascist organizations and that we have to encounter these people in such circumstances at their protests and events.

To working people we say that there is no sense is paying your dues to pay for the salary of a bloated bureaucracy which won't even fight half the time when members are repressed and does more to prevent workers from striking than to take resolute action against our scandalous working conditions.

No to the class collaborationists and bureaucrats!
Solidarity is our weapon – but not the one written with a capital „S”.