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On July 17, ZSP Warsaw union formed part of an anti-capitalist bloc at this year's Equality (Pride) Parade, together with the Warsaw Anarchist Formation, the Collective of Relentless Help and a group of radical sex workers. The bloc eventually numbered around 200 people and was probably the most political one; uniquely in the parade, it discussed class elements and the problems of the working class, especially of LGBTQIA+ workers and sex workers. ZSP's main slogans were “there is no equality in capitalism” and “queer in the workers' struggle” while the sex workers also had several slogans concerning their situation as workers.

Over the last two decades, the parade has transformed from a small parade of hardcore activists, usually attacked by nazis and the extreme right to a large mainstream event. While this certainly attests to some progress in mainstreaming LGBTQIA+ status and rights, which is something positive, on the other hand, now the majority of the trucks going in the parade are organized by corporations, (predominantly horrible banks like Citibank, etc.) and mostly the march is filled with pop music. Politics, if present at all, is in the background, drowned out by the corporate-sponsored discos.

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On May 28, ZSP held a picket at another Zabka convenience store, this time at Motycka St. 23 in Warsaw. In this store, they had people working without a contract, for less than the minimum wage. One worker kept asking about a contract and finally quit, but then found out that the owner didn't even want to pay her anything. We wrote a letter to them demanding the salary owed at the legal minimum wage. Of course we don't want to ever hear again of this kind of exploitation at this shop.

Within a couple of days, the owner paid some money to the worker, but not the full amount. We went to the shop to find the owner not the least bit concerned about the crimes he committed or making sure that people who work there are legally employed. We are sending another demand letter and picket and are hoping the full amount be paid. In the meanwhile, we informed local residents about the situation in this shop and encourage them to avoid shopping there as long as this kind of practice exists.

We will keep reporting cases of abuse in this convenience store chain and taking action against wage thieves.


When we think of the goals of anarcho-syndicalism, we know that it is the establishment of control of the working class over the means of production, the establishment of libertarian communism and of course, the elimination of the capitalist class. The capitalist class is the one that has property rights over the means of production, despite the fact that workers are the ones who create all the wealth. In capitalist society, working people are exploited in many ways due to their lack of access to capital; besides working to create the wealth that give business owners both profit and property rights, many of us pay rent, therefore we work so that another person can profit off ownership or attain ownership (as some of us rent to pay off a mortgage for another person). We give in all the money but another person owns the place we live and may try to claim possession of it, evicting us from our homes.

Although there exist various strands of anarchism – some of which most anarchists would even deny, like libertarian capitalism – the anarcho-syndicalist tradition has been fairly clear in terms of its views on private property. One of our main purposes, besides organizing in workplaces to further the class struggle, is to promote our finalist views, the idea of how the future society could be organized without capitalism.

When we talk about private property, we prefer collectivization and socialization. The very idea of property should be replaced by the idea that those that work a place or a piece of land have control over it (also with the participation of the society which is affected by this production). In terms of use of land, houses and so on, again, instead of private property, we favor the idea that no person should possess more than they actually use. Instead, those who actually use and maintain a place should be in possession of it.

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On Sunday April 16, the ZSP Multi-branch Union picketed at two Zabka convenience stores in Warsaw. The first one was at Hemara St. where we went for the first time and the second one at Skrzynieckiego St., where we returned.

During the picket at Skrzynieckiego St., one worker was paid but unfortunately, the second worker was not able to come and did not. After the picket at Hemara St., we learned that a second worker was not paid there. This is very common; if an employer doesn't pay one worker, he or she probably has also cheated somebody else. In this situation, the worker, who explained she is a single mother and cannot pay her bills because of this situation, received a lot of support from the local residents. The Zabka agent (franchisee) paid both of the workers.

This just shows again that it pays to take action. Unfortunately, there are a lot more people out there that are cheated but who we don't have contact with.

On May Day, we will be conducting an informational event in Warsaw where we will try to inform precarious workers of their rights and encourage them to organize. We will be stopping at multiple Zabka stores. Many people in the area of our office have worked in Zabka or other convenience stores at one time or another and some of the stores are using workers illegally, without contracts or proper payment and benefits. We will continue to fight this exploitation on May Day and after!

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On March 19, ZSP Warsaw union held two pickets at two different Zabka stores. Zabka is the largest chain in Poland with almost 9000 shops run by franchise. It is also present in the Czech Republic and Slovakia and is owned by CVC Capital Partners private equity firm. As the company does not care about the working conditions in its shops, many of the shops employ people without giving them contracts, pay them under the table and routinely steal their wages.

The first picket was a shop on ul. Skrzynieckiego. There, two workers were robbed of their wages. One was employed on a contract, the other was never given a contract at all. The workers calculated what they were owed and we sent this information by email. When we delivered a demand letter in person, the agent tore it up. We understand that she believes that she can get away with wage theft, however her actions just make us more determined to inform people about the situation there and keep fighting for the money owed.

The second picket was in Minsk Mazowiecki, near Warsaw. In this situation, the woman who originally wanted to fight actually received her money the day after we announced the picket. One success. However, a woman we know then contacted us that she had also worked there and had her wages stolen. This is a common situation that the thieving bosses usually have more than 1 victim. We went and demanded the money but instead of paying, the agent locked the store. Later she made a false alarm call to the police saying that we were “attacking her”. As we know, the police can protect such thieves but we think this time they were not fooled about what had happened. This is because already many people in Poland know that there are many horrible Zabka agents who rob people's salary.

While this situation continues we will continue to inform the public about what is happening and ask for support of the workers by not patronizing the thieving shops. ZSP has already successfully held numerous actions in and around Warsaw and succeeded in helping more than a dozen people get the money they were owed.

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The Struggle Continues

Another worker from Zabka convenience stores was able to get money which he was owed after ZSP announced it intention to picket the store.

The worker's rights were violated in several ways: first, he was fired for requesting a day off and was not paid for the time he worked in that last month. As it turned out, he also had been receiving less than the minimum wage and was not paid any overtime pay and was illegally employed, with no contract. Besides this, he was subject to working conditions which in Poland are illegal for people under the age of 18.

We decided to make a picket and sent information about the money that he was owed, calculating the difference between the legal minimum wage and what he was receiving.

The day before the picket, the young worker received the money on his account so we considered the conflict closed. However, we still went with a symbolic picket to Zabka because we had already announced it and were not sure everybody who heard about it was informed. Also, we think it is only fair that we stress to the bosses that they cannot silence us about what they are doing.

Zabka is the largest convenience store in Poland. It is rapidly expanding, with over 9000 shops in the country and more than 500 in Warsaw alone. It is owned by the shady CVC Capital Partners, a spin-off of Citigroup. The chain operates as a franchise and we can see that, although there are franchisees who follow the law, Zabka stores very often act in violation of the labor code and cheat workers in various ways. We are aware of many problems occuring at this chain around the company.

Like all franchisers, the owners of the brand try to make us believe that they have nothing to do with the illegal labor practices in their stores but there are no clauses about working conditions in the franchise contract and no contractual penalties for exploiting workers. It isn't that Zabka doesn't put penalties on its franchisees; tons of people have faced huge lawsuits by Zabka for various issues. The company is interested in earning as much as they can and has no qualms taking advantage of their franchisees but we see that working conditions are not on their list of priorities.

In October we organized pickets in Warsaw and in Grodzisk Mazowiecki at Zabka stores and also managed to get payment for other workers whose wages were stolen. (In Polish: In the past, we held similar actions at a number of shops in Warsaw and other cities in Poland.

Our union will keep the pressure up on this chain, which is now a major employer in Poland and an employer of people who are vulnerable to exploitation and wage theft.

Workers are not to be screwed with and we will fight back!

ZSP Warsaw


The 28th IWA Congress took place from December 9-11 in Alcoy Spain. A group of delegates and observers from the ZSP took part in the work of the Congress, Below is one account of this event, which commemorates 100 years of the International Workers' Association.

The IWA Congresses occur every three years: the last one took place in 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. There we decided that the Centennary Congress should be held in Spain, hosted by our Section, the CNT-AIT. The comrades in Spain chose the city Alcoy to host the celebration. This choice was significant, as we will explain later and proved to be an excellent place to hold our Congress.

Delegations arrived from most of the IWA Sections (although a few delegates were not allowed to travel to the Schengen area). We were met with the greatest comaraderie and hospitality by our hosts in Spain who had also prepared a number of events to accompany the Congress.

Prior to the Congress there were concerts, book presentations and a tour with historical information about the Petroleum Revolution. For those who may not know about this, it was a very significant event in workers' history in 1873 when workers from the Spanish Regional Federation of the International Workingmen's Association led a revolt and, for a time, took over the town before being brutally repressed. Such events were part of the rich legacy of the libertarian workers' movement in Spain which eventually led to the foundation of the CNT in 1910.

As usual, the Congress agenda was quite extensive and contained many points relating to issues such as improving the internal functioning of the International, welcoming new members into the Federation, creating and or presenting the work of working groups and practical projects, discussion, rotation of the functions and more.

One of the first points of the Agenda related to affiliation so we are pleased to announce that our comrades from Ireland,from„Organize” have joined as Friends of the IWA. We look forward to fruitful cooperation!


On October 28, ZSP Warsaw organized two connected actions: one in front of the Russian Embassy and one in front of the Ukrainian. Although the message was somewhat different at both, we carried similar ideas there as well.

One of our main slogan was „Glory to Deserters” which is a detournement of the Polish patriotic slogan „Glory to Heroes”, which glories the military. We brought this slogan to the Russian Embassy where we strongly criticized Putin's war but also spoke of the many acts of desertion, sabotage and other resistance happening in Russian, despite risks of extreme repression. We yelled that Putin should end up like Nicholas II and that Putin was kaput. A couple of Russian dissidents also joined in with their anti-war message. Prior to the action we made it clear that everybody who was against the war was welcome at this demo, which was important to us because a few weeks ago, the self-ordained leader or the so-called women's strike again showed her deplorable attitude by heating up a pogrom-like atmosphere to chase Russians off a different demo. We had to make our opinion about that also known. We also expressed the opinion that Poland should open its borders to deserters who refuse to go to war in Ukraine and not discriminate against them,

After decrying the actions of the Russian government, we moved on to the Ukrainian Embassy. Here we had a few ideas from Ukrainian anarchists about what they wanted expressed. The first thing was the problem with not allowing assigned males to go abroad. We pointed out that this was probably affecting the poor more than anybody else, because plenty of people could not afford to become 30 year old students or pay bribes at the border to get into Poland, but some people are stuck. We also talked about how this was part of the patriarchal world view, that men are supposed to „man up” and fight.

While we were at the Embassy, we also talked about the fact that the government is taking advantage of this war to push through all sorts of reforms to the labor code that actually their neo-liberals have been trying to push for some time and finally found a pretext to do so.

We expressed solidarity with all the people who are suffering in the situation and called on people to organize. We also spoke about the problems of Ukrainian workers in Poland, who are finding themselves in a more and more desperate situation, with both unscrupulous bosses and landlords and called on them to organize themselves to stand up to this situation.

ZSP Warsaw


As ZSP approaches its 15th anniversary next month, Laure Akai takes a look back at the experiences of the union.

This downloadable PDF briefly describes many of ZSP's work conflicts and mentions other areas of its activity.


On September 25, a group of cleaners from the hospital in Jaworzno held a protest to demand better working conditions. The cleaners marched from the Municipal Office through the central part of town to the hospital.

The protest highlighted a number of demands of the cleaners. Like many such workers in Poland, their jobs are outsourced to an outside company (although in this hospital, some cleaners are also hired directly by the hospital). The firm that is supposed to provide cleaning services is Impel, a huge company that specializes in providing cleaning and security services. However, Impel has been using other companies in the hospital to avoid responsibility. The workers are cheated out of overtime pay as they are forced to sign 2 or 3 contracts and the main employer claims they work the statutory limit and are working for somebody else as well, not overtime with them. The use of multiple employers also affects people on trash contracts because there are laws that limit the number of temporary trash contracts one employer can sign before the contract should become permanent.

So one of the main demands of the cleaners is direct employment with the hospital and normal contracts for everybody. Currently, the cleaners in the hospital have different working conditions – some are hired directly, some on normal work contracts and some on trash contracts – through a variety of firms that Impel is using to avoid responsibility.

The workers want to be paid properly for night shifts and extra if they work overtime, which is required by law.

Another problem in the hospital is the fact that the cleaners all should have received a special payment already for working during the COViD pandemic. All health care workers were entitled to this, but part of the cleaners did not receive it yet.

Finally, as of July 2021, the government raised the minimum salaries in health care jobs. This raise also concerned cleaners but they did not get a raise. This may be that those who work directly through hospitals receive these raises, but the firms that provide services from outside do not feel obliged to raise the wages.

After the cleaners met to articulate their demands, they spoke to the local media about their problems and said that they might go on strike. Impel reacted to this by trying to intimidate workers and get them to sign a statement that everything is good. This is a typical move from the union-buster's handbook.

Cleaners are usually the most precarious health care workers. Their jobs are often outsourced and not very stable and they are treated as very expendable. For this reason, they are not as organized as other health care workers. On September 11, health care workers from all over Poland demonstrated in the capital and set up a camp in front of the Council of Ministers. However cleaners were absent which reflects the low level of organization in this field. While nurses, doctors, EMTs and other professionals are still protesting, the cleaners from Jaworzno are currently the only group which has organized itself and taken action.

Despite Impel's attempt to intimidate the workers, on September 25 the protest took place as planned. It started at the Munipal Office because it is responsible for the hospital. The workers talked about their conditions and demanded that the municipality take action. Then they marched through the town, through the main square, handing out copies of „Direct Action” dedicated to health care workers and their situation. They finished at the hospital.

Nobody was sure what would happen when they went back to work but one woman received her payment for working during COViD and the Impel people started to cynically claim that the workers themselves wanted to have all the different contracts. It looks as if the company got a little spooked but nothing has changed yet. The situation is still dynamic and the workers are waiting to see what will happen next week and how they should develop the conflict if the situation is not resolved.

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