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27 February ZSP held a picket in front of the busiest Green Way restaurant in Warsaw as part of boycott called against the restaurant. First people gave information about workers' rights and organization and about the problems in Greenway that led to the boycott. Then there was a picket outside this busy restaurant. The manager was upset about it and called to the director of the company to explain that their was a protest there. Although he claimed that there were no violations in his bar, it later turned out that workers there, as probably in most Green Way restaurants, are also not given statutory overtime payments.

The director of the company explained that unpaid work should not happen again in Green Way, but there is no information about how this is going to be stopped or about when people will receive their money for the time they worked for free. In addition, he claimed that the problem in Wroclaw was resolved, although we know that people haven't been paid.

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In Warsaw there were two solidarity actions for the Belgrade six in recent days: on February 16 there was a picket at the Serbian Embassy and February 25 there was a demonstration organized by ZSP and WRS as part of the International Solidarity Day called for by ASI.

The demonstration, although only about 30 people, was very visible and went a couple of hours through Warsaw, stopping at many places for speeches. The police did not manage to stop the demonstration, even after it blocked an important intersection. Besides words of solidarity for the Belgrade Six, there were lots of good anti-state and anti-capitalist slogans, and everytime the demo passed some objectionable place (like Starbucks), there were some additional slogans and speeches.

The demo attracted a lot of attention and curiosity and many leaflets about the case were handed out. Some of the people had heard about it before.

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Making people work without contracts on unpaid trial periods, forced overtime and shit work conditions were exposed in Green Way vegetarian restaurants in at least 4 locations over the last couple of years.

(See:http://libcom.org/news/green-way-vegetarian-restaurant-doesnt-pay-workers-10022010)

During a recent picket of a Wroclaw restaurant where people were hired and worked illegally without pay, a former worker of the restaurant confronted the owner who simply lied and claimed the women had never worked there. Yesterday and today, a couple of workers and comrades visited Green Way to demand back pay and copies of contracts proving that they worked there. They were offered money under the table, but with no written contract or evidence of having worked there - so they refused, demanded a copy of a contract and went back today. Today the owners were more agressive, threatening to sue us if articles about them do not disappear off the internet within three days. Also, they showed on the computer some "statement" written by "satisfied workers" which presumably they will try to print to convince people that there is "no problem" in their restaurants.

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Green Way vegetarian restaurant in Wroclaw uses illegal, unpaid labour. The restaurant on Kuznica St. makes people work for free for at least a week - people are told they have to have such a trial period. Such practices are strictly forbidden by law and is just a way for the restaurant to get free labour and increase its profits. If the people are then hired, they usually have really bad working conditions and don't last long.

This is not the first problem at Green Way - we know of problems in at least 3 other cities and we made a lot of noise about this a few years ago. We thought maybe the owners of the restaurant would get the message, but apparently not. So ZSP is going to be campaigning for them to change their ways.

Green Way is a large chain of vegetarian restaurants which wants to be the vegetarian McDonalds. It decided to become a corporation, wanted to sell shares, have 100 restaurants in Poland and open up chains in 10 different countries - but so far this endeavour has been a failure. But it still advertises itself as the largest chain of vegetarian restaurants in the world.

The Green altercapitalists at Green Way were made aware of the problems of free labour, forced overtime, etc. a couple of years ago. Then they claimed that, as a franchise, there was "not much they could do" to ensure that workers' rights were respected at their restaurants. It was suggested that a code be adopted and included as part of the franchise contract, with contractual penalties for bad labour practices. Green Way however only cares about profit and is more interested in the look and location of their restaurants than the staff. This does not however prevent them from trying to capitalize on promoting "fair trade" and marketing themselves as some sort of ethical business.

ZSP in Wroclaw has been contacting workers and carrying out an informational campaign. In general ZSP is trying to inform people of their rights at work and encouraging organizing in areas which are typically not organized. Exploitation is particularly prevalent in jobs dominated by students and the marginally employed, and among those people, unfortunately there is not always awareness of the problems. Or, people are desperate for any job.

On February 12, there was a picket at the Green Way on Kuznica St. One of the former employees of Green Way, who was not paid, asked the owner about her salary and she claimed that "you never worked here" and called the police on the demonstrators. Such a determination on the part of Green Way to continue such practices and such sleaziness will be met with our determination to change things. This is just the beginning, In the meanwhile, we are going to return to the slogan "Green Way - No Way" and encourage people to stay away from these restaurants. More actions are planned around Poland and a few former employees will be joining.

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Members of ZSP educational section made an informational action at Warsaw University. Leaflets were given out with information about the Bologna Process and against paid studies. There were also leaflets about the doctoral students protest in Wroclaw and booklets informing students about their rights at work. Since this action was made for weekend students, most of them work and students have many problems with working conditions.

There is such an action every week in Warsaw.

www.edukacja.zsp.net.pl

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Members of ZSP in Wrocław are involved in the organization of doctoral students at Wroclaw University. The working conditions of the doctoral students are particularly bad. They are required to do teaching and research and receive a stipend which is even less than minimal wage. And in some of the humanities department, they don't even receive that.

The doctoral students are demanding a raise to the level of minimal wage. They do not currently receive the minimum because they are not considered "workers".

On Jan. 27, the students held a protest in front of Wroclaw University. Their demands were given to the University and published on their new internet page.

The students are considering an escalation in action, perhaps a strike, if their demands are not met.

ZSP has doctoral students in other cities and it is possible that this protest will spread.

Pages: http://www.strajk-doktorancki.bzzz.net
http://oszczedny-doktorant.blog.pl

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ZSP Educational Section is holding informational actions every Friday afternoon in front of educational institutions. Weekly meetings are being held at the Warsaw infoshop.

Besides information on the Bologna Process and agitation for free and libertarian education, ZSP calls for better working conditions for academic workers and support staff in schools and universities. It also is trying to increase consciousness amongst students, among other things, of their rights at work and problems of commerical education.

More information:
www.edukacja.zsp.net.pl
www.pragupe.blogspot.com
(in Polish)

Contact: warszawa@zsp.net.pl

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On January 11 pickets were held in front of the German Embassy in Warsaw and consulates in Wroclaw, Gdansk, Gliwice and Olsztyn in support of the anarchosyndicalist union FAU. Protests were also sent in or delivered in a couple of other cities.

The pickets were to protest the court decision which essentially bans FAU as a legal trade union. Messages of solidarity were read in front of the embassy and leaflets given out. Activists promised to continue protest if the situation does not change.

Many of the activists criticized the role of the state and ver.di which acted in this case as a yellow union. Part of a statement written by ZSP and WRS reads:

If the employers don't want to negotiate directly with the workers, then direct action is the only way left to put pressure on the boss. Workers can formulate their own demands without the consent of the bosses and union bureaucrats - and that is exactly want they will do when their rights are violated. Such bans can lead to a radicalization of workers who will not tolerate further repression.

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There are some additional news items on this blog:

http://zsp-iwa.blogspot.com/

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On Dec. 4-6 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, the 24th Congress of the International Workers' Association took place. ZSP became the newest section of the IWA. This is the first time a section from Poland has been represented in the International.

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