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To Noam Chomsky: Why We Boycott Elections

On June 9, Bogusław Ziętek, the Polish Labour Party's (PPP) candidate for President, published on his election website a list of famous leftist supporters, headed by Noam Chomsky. The information was press released and republished in various media in Poland (spread by the official Polish Press Agency (PAP) under the title "Ken Loach and Noam Chomsky Support Me". (An example in the main Polish newspaper can be seen here: http://wyborcza.pl/1,75478,7994946,Nawet_Chomsky_i_Loach_popieraja_Bogus...) It also appeared in different languages on the websites of international left groups where we also can learn that Chomsky supposedly supports the electoral campaign of the "Anticapitalist Left". (See: http://www.anticapitalistas.org/node/3933).

Later, when somebody wrote to Chomsky to complain, an email was received stating: "... I have no record of this support or who initiated it, so can't try to pursue the matter. Do you have a record of some petition that I might have signed?" (Text of that email to Chomsky is below.)

The ZSP immediately thought to send a letter to Chomsky on the candidate Zietek but it is now questionable whether or not Chomsky actually signed his name to a list of supporters. Nevertheless, given Chomsky's occasional lapses into support of the authoritarian left, we thought he still deserved an open letter, not only on the topic of the candidate, but also on why we boycott elections in general.

Our political vision does not include reform from above or the rule of the revolutionary avant-garde over society. The creation of a libertarian society can only be created from below, by a mass movement of the working class and the control of production, distribution and social services in the hands of both the workplaces involved and the society. We do not need to participate in electoral farces but to put all our attention and energy into building militant grassroots organzations which are capable not only of overthrowing the state and capitalism, but also of practicing direct democracy. We see the committed building of such movements as the primary task of all tendencies of the social anarchist tradition.

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Despite the rain, March 19 there was an anti-repression action in the center of Warsaw. The action was held to draw public attention to various types of repression against political activists, protestors, workers and unionists and in particular to cases related to our comrades.

Some speeches were made and leaflets given out about cases of repression against workers' activists (from FAU, CNT, ZSP) and about the current situation in Mezhdurechensk. We spoke about the situation with Priama Dija in Ukraine and other cases in Russia, such as the case of Andrei Kutuzov from Autonomous Action.

We also explained that this protest coincided with the trial of the Lisbon 11 and reminded people about the famous cases of arrests of antifascists in Warsaw and, more recently, in Bialystok.

Finally, we also reminded people about the outrageous case of the Belgrade Six.

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ZSP is taking part in the weeks of actions against temporary work called by the IWA. Besides pickets at Start People, many issues of the paper Zaplata have been distributed across Poland. A special page was set up to help people get information about this topic. It can be found here: www.tymczasowi.zsp.net.pl

On May 1, a public discussion on the topic will be held in Warsaw after the May Day demo.

More actions are planned for May and June, especially for students and seasonal workers who may take temporary summer jobs. Information aboutwork agencies known to cheat can be found on our different webpages.

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15 April ZSP Wrocław made a picket at Start People Temporary Work Agency. The picket concerned the case of workers at Start People in Spain and the demands to reinstate a member of CNT who did not want to sign accept lower pay and worse working conditions. The firm later admitted that she was unfairly dismissed but offered compensation instead of reinstatement.

The management of the firm received a letter in which ZSP expressed its anger about the situation. Passersby were also given the latest issue of the ZSP paper "Zapłata" which this time is dedicated to the problem of temporary work and also contains an article about the situation in Start people.

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9 April, ZSP made a picket at the Warsaw office of temporary work agency Start People. This was part of international day of action called by CNT Zaragoza, whose member had rights violated, was illegally dismissed and demands return to work.

Workers from Start People came to talk to ZSP about the reasons for the protest. People coming in and going out of agency received new issue of ZSP paper Zaplata which contains many articles about temporary work, including information about rights of temp workers and examples of actions made when there were problems at work.

This action is first in series about temporary work which will be made in Warsaw this month.

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On March 15, protest actions took place at Green Way restaurants in Wroclaw, Warsaw, Olsztyn and Lodz. At the Wroclaw restaurant, the local Food Not Bombs collective joined ZSP and, with the slogan "Free Work, Free Food", the activists gave out free food at the entrance to the blocked restaurant. The idea was that, since the restaurant does not want to pay workers, why not go one step further - and not charge people for eating?

At the Wroclaw action, former employees cheated by the restaurant took part and when the boss came out to complain about the free food, demanded their salaries.

By all accounts, the free food was much better than the frozen fast food crap at the vegetarian McDonalds.

The owner of the restaurant called the police but open arriving, they went into the restaurant and then went away, refusing to do anything about the action.

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7 The "winners" of the Worst Employer of the Year Award, were announced yesterday in Warsaw. The competition was rather hard this year, with about 150 nominees to choose from, sent in by angry workers. Special notice was given to two firms with the largest amount of employees writing in: bank PKO BP and Empik, Poland's largest chain of bookstores.

Mobbing, unpaid overtime, discrimination, arbitary whims of the boss - these were the most frequent complaints of the workers. But some complaints were much more serious that others, or we found so outrageous that they made their way onto the shortlist. The winners of this year's contest were:

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Members of ZSP from Warsaw, Olsztyn and Wroclaw took part in women's day marches (called Manifa in Poland) on March 7. In Wroclaw and Warsaw there were radical blocks organized.

In Wroclaw, people had a banner with a scale stating that "women's work does not pay", in reference to both wage differences between men and women and the fact that in many low-paid service sectors and "feminized" professions, women are stuck doing hard jobs for little money. Many of the slogans chanted there were responses to the liberal feminists on the march who want a certain liberal feminist leader to become president. They chanted "No patriarchy, no capitalism" and "We don't want parity, we want revolution", among other things.

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March 6, members of ZSP protested at the Green Way Restaurant on Kuznica St. in Wroclaw. This is the place where we were contacted about violation of workers rights and went into a conflict with the management. A few former workers took part in this action.

People protested both inside and outside the restaurant, essentially blocking its business. ZSP demands, among other things, that the owners of the restaurant cease their threats of repression against A., who this week recently a letter from their lawyer threatening her with criminal charges that face up to 14 years in jail. (!) Green Way's lawyers claim that fighting for wages owed amounts to "blackmail" and also try to scare A. with other crimes. They also threaten to informed A.'s unversity of her alleged "anarchist activity".

ZSP is boycotting Green Way and asking that the owners stop violating workers rights by guaranteeing that no unpaid labour will be used, that workers will get contracts and be paid overtime and that a workers' inspection be allowed to check for compliance.

More about the case is here: www. greenway.zsp.net.pl

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A new addition to the list of outrageous attempts to repress social movements is the Green Way case, where the lawyer for the restaurant, Anna Grzegorska, has written a threatening letter to our colleague A. A. refused to waive her right to get salary turning her training / trial period at the Wroclaw restaurant. In fact, even if she had waived it, it doesn't matter: such work should still be paid. A. demanded her salary for that period.

The lawyer for Greenway threatens to bring criminal charges against A., for "crimes" such as blackmail, posing a risk to business and slander. Together these crimes could carry as much as 14 years in jail.

Just to add insult to injury, Grzegorska informs that should A. not cease in her campaign to get her wages, her university will be informed of her "anarchist activity".

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