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Since October, a number of workers have been fighting against the wage theft that happened and is happening at Tumiraj educational center in Warsaw. In November, two pickets were held at the center but instead of paying, the boss tried to make ridiculous claims to the police. In the middle of December, the union went to the boss's house. He appeared and talked to the police, claiming not to know anything about this and when he saw us try to approach him, he ran into the woods behind his house and disappeared. Since this is his arrogant refusal to even speak to workers but literally runs away from them and tries to make false claims to the police to stop protests, we informed all his neighbors about what he did and promised to return.

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Janusz Granos Book Firm runs several shops in Warsaw and an online internet sale of books. Unfortunately it is cheating workers. First, they are not always given their contracts before they start and then when they get them, the conditions are changed and the contract is constructed in a wrong way. Evidence of working time is not kept and workers were not given proper pay slips showing the hours worker, evidence that insurance was paid or not, etc. A couple of workers were cheated so they called for a boycott of the firm. On December 9, a protest was held in front of the main shop in Warsaw. Two workers presented their demands, stating how much money they were owed: 2800 and 1050 zloties. After the protest, the boss paid 700 zloties to one worker, which is not near the amount owed. The ZSP will continue the protests after the national quarantine ends in the second half of January, when shops can open again.

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ZSP Warsaw has opened a conflict with a preschool and educational center that has not paid a few workers. 3 workers are involved, including the school psychologist and speech therapist. They have been waiting for months for their salaries, plus payment for unused vacation time. They also had problems that they could not get any social benefits because the boss did not send the required form into the Social Security Office and they received an incorrect work certificate, which is a document they need for further employment.

At the end of July, the IWE Foundation, which ran the school, took the decision to wind up their activity. The boss and the chair of the Foundation had set up a commercial enterprise in March. They obviously had no intention of closing the school and it is still functioning regularly. Although the same people run the school as before, by using another name, they can pretend that IWE does not have any obligation towards its former employees. Despite the fact that IWE is in liquidation, 2 weeks ago there were job advertisements – for a psychologist and a speech therapist, posted under the name IWE.

The women had contacted the State Labor Inspectorate about the case, but they were told that nothing could be done, because their employer is in liquidation. This is despite the obvious fact that the employers just changed the name and legal form under which they operate.

No doubt they feel untouchable, using the legal loopholes that the state sanctions to help unscrupulous employers commit wage theft. However, we will show them that they are not, that such actions should never be tolerated.

ZSP will protest at the School. Last week we also visited the State Labor Inspectorate, among other reasons, about this situation. We pointed out how yet again, the state provides the legal means to encourage wage theft and that its inspectorates are often useless. The best tool for workers is organization, mutual aid and direct action.

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A week of action against unpaid wages will be held from October 12-18. 2020. The actions, which are organized by the International Workers' Association, will focus attention on this problem that workers around the globe face all too often.

The unions of the IWA have often been able to take successful action against various forms of wage theft. One of them is the ZSP. Hundreds of workers have been able to recover wages and other money they were entitled to through action with this union. On the occasion of the International Week of Action, we present the history of a few such cases which show different types of theft such as unpaid wages, underpaid wages, lack of overtime payments, lack of sick pay, vacation time or social security payments (to name the most common).

In presenting these actions, we have chosen ones that represent different types of problems and show some of the ways that the bosses cheat workers. Some of these cases lasted a long time and are well-known such as the campaigns in supermarkets such as Dino, PoloMarket or Marcpol. Others were resolved more quickly or happened a while ago and are not always known to a new generation of activists such as the wildcat strike in PKS Grodzisk Mazowiecki, the problems of subcontracted workers at JW Construction or the campaign at GreenWay restaurants.

During the week of action, we hope to focus attention on the various types of problems that workers often encounter and encourage them to join us and take action!

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The whole world is watching the situation in Belarus with concern. The uprising of Belarusian society against the authoritarian government is growing and is manifested in different ways. We can observe not only mass demonstrations, but also strikes that unite workers from different professions, expressing the anger of the local working class against tyranny. We hope that the strikes will turn into a general strike, which will lead to the overthrow of the dictator Lukashenko.

The Union of Syndicalists Poland would like to express its solidarity with the Belarusian working class, judging that the uprising against the government will allow workers to believe in their strength and can bring the workers' struggle to a new, bolder path. We strongly encourage workers to start the process of uniting into a grassroots, self-organized labor movement, independent of political parties and regular trade union leaders. A movement which as a result of mass strikes can take control of the workplaces and means of production. Only organized and systematic struggle of a society united in such unions can win this unequal struggle. Independent, grassroots unions will be an important and necessary step towards the liberation of Belarusian society. We hope that you can transform the political and economic system in accordance with a sense of social responsibility. We also hope you don't make the same mistakes like here in Poland, where the trade union which had a slogan of solidarity on their flags and followed politically naive leaders who exchanged the dictatorship of the Communist Party for the dictatorship of capitalist politics, power and business. Polish workers have felt the consequences of this mistake til this day.

For this reason, it is not enough to change one political power for another. It is necessary to rebuild society from the bottom up, laying the foundation for self-managed structures.

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Since the start of the Coronavirus Pandemic, ZSP has been reacting to job and salary cuts both in particular workplaces and in general. The government reacted to the situation with a series of aid packages to support business and supposed also to support workers. However, the union pointed out from the beginning that the policies did not cover all workers and were grossly inadequate to the situation. One of the main problems in the government's policies relates to the fact that it has for the last two decades or more legitimized a dual system of employment where part of the workforce is considered a „worker” and given all the protection of the Labor Code but huge numbers of workers are fake independent contractors. When the government said it would offer help to these workers, the mechanism they put in place meant that in reality, most of them received nothing. We pointed this out and these criticisms resonated. After a couple of months of pressure, the Act called „the Shield” was amended to take this into account. Although we can count this as a victory, other parts of the amendment, as well as a new Act on Solidarity Payments were totally unacceptable.

The Act on Solidarity Payments highlight the problems of the constant discrimination of a large segment of workers in Poland. Not only do these workers have fewer rights and guarantees against immediate dismissal, but also now, they will not be entitled to relief under the new Act. The Act would offer up to 3 monthly payments of 1400 zloties (313 EUR) to people who lost their jobs – but only for those who had an employment contract. Even here, certain provisions of the Act guarantee that some of those people will also be excluded. However, during the Pandemic, people who were contractors were the ones hit especially hard as employers are able to fire them much more easily or not extend their contracts. Many of them have monthly contracts and those were the easiest to get rid of. However, the state did not include these people (which are more than 3 million workers) in the act. Many people were left with nothing.

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In response to the Coronavirus Epidemic, the government adopted a series of measures meant to provide help to business and to workers – mostly the former. We immediately pointed out that there were a few major problems and drew up a list of demands. One of the demands related to supposed help to workers whose income dropped because of the virus. Workers who are not on a work contract but are „independent contractors” (which is about 2 million people in Poland), were not allowed to apply for this relief directly but the company they work for had to do it. Since many of these people are employed as contractors to circumvent the labor law, the employers were not submitting claims and people were left without any help. Today the government finally changed this and workers can submit the forms themselves.

We think that now a huge amount of people will be able to get help. Many people were left with no income because of the pandemic and were unable to get any help.

On May 29, we held a protest at the Parliament and spoke about this huge problem and raised our demands. Tomorrow we are participating in another protest and we will remind the public of the rest of the demands that still need to be fulfilled.

See:
https://zsp.net.pl/protest-parliament-against-anti-worker-measures
https://zsp.net.pl/government-makes-crisis-worse-protest-parliament
https://zsp.net.pl/demands-may-day

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On May 29 we organized a protest at the Parliament in response to the measures taken by the government that severely worsen the situation of the working class. Although the government claims that protesting is not legal, we demanded our right to protest be respected. We raised our postulates, many of which are very specific to the measures taken under the „Shield Act”, which include giving bosses the right to cut salaries and more easily fire people. (See https://zsp.net.pl/demands-may-day). Workers spoke about different problems that they had and generally criticized the direction of the government and the workings of capitalism.

ZSP plans to continue its campaign against the anti-worker provisions introduced during the pandemic.

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The Coronavirus pandemic has negatively affected tens of millions of workers around the world. Many had to bear the brunt of a crisis, with little relief from the government. In Poland, billions are being spent – but help is not always going where it should be and millions of the most vulnerable are left with nothing. This is because government relief has focused on aid to businesses, not directly to workers. Millions of unemployed and workers on casual contracts have been left out in the cold. In addition, despite promising generous susidies to businesses that maintain employment, the government is now dismantling many important aspects of the labor law, allowing bosses to cut salaries, change working conditions, force overtime and giving more control over vacations. It has even proposed allowing the suspension of work contracts, without severance pay.

At the same time, prices are up and even public housing tenants have received rent hikes. Aid to tenants is proposed, but will not include anybody who is actually behind on the rent, as debtors are excluded.

In response to all the brainless and insensitive acts and raid on public funds (including workers' social funds) to pump up businesses – even those which had huge profits year after year – ZSP called for a demonstration at the Parliament, as soon as the quarantine ends. Well, the quarantine is not exactly over as people may shop in malls but the state refuses to mention when people can hold protests again. This is a deliberate method, not to control the spread of any disease, but to keep the public pacified, especially before elections. Recent demonstrations have been met with tear gas and LRAD. In light of this, we insist on our right to hold „revolutionary gymnastics” in the public space which is ours. May 29 we will voice our discontent and repeat our demands, which as we see, have large support from the public.

We refuse to take any step backwards. Hands off workers' rights! There is no better time to organize!

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Earlier this year we had thought how to observe May Day but all plans were changed due to the situation with Coronavirus. Currently in Poland, demonstrations and even all public assembly of more than 2 people (2 meters apart) is banned – but that hasn't stopped numerous protests from happening, Nor has it stopped people who organize actions in public, such as free food distribution or the distribution of masks. In Warsaw, after recent protests some of us engaged in, we are aware that we are observed by the police who would mobilize against us if we tried to go out in any larger group. On the other hand, public opinion is quite divided, with some considering that gathering any mass of people would be irresponsible. We decided that the most important thing is that we need to be agitated and mobilizing people all the time and to find ways to respond to different worker conflicts which are occuring around us. With this in mind, over the past month we have been trying to respond to a few situations were workers have been fired, usually without notice and sometimes not getting paid.

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