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(en) Poland, news from Wroclaw - hospital protest

From Laure <cube@zigzag.pl>
Date Wed, 18 Dec 2002 18:33:42 -0500 (EST)


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In the past few months, workers protests have risen in Poland. They mainly
concern the negative effects of privatization and the worsening economic
conditions in Poland. Last year, the threat of the liquidation of the
Shipyard in Szczecin forced workers to take to the streets in Szczecin and
Poznan. Miners from Upper Silesia are on strike alert. Recently, loud
workers protests appeared in Ozarow near Warsaw ([link to Indymedia]). In
Wroclaw you can observe a dramatic struggle for the survival of one of the
main hospitals in the city.

The protest of the workers of the Rydygier Hospital  has lasted since
October 2001, when the local authorities decided to liquidate the facility.
According to clerks,  the hospital, employing a few hundred people, is out
of date and not profitable. Despite the fact that this decision was revoked
by Main Review Court (NSA), the workers haven't got salaries since September
2002. (Only recently they've got money for September and October.) The
authorities once again threatened that they will liquidate the hospital.
They don't care that  Rydygier's problems are caused by the activities of
the authorities and by the bad system of Medical Care. Nobody has criticised
the quality of  Rydygier's work.

>From the beginning, the protest has arosen without any formal workers
organisation, instead cooperating with local anarchist and squatters'
groups. People established the Komitet Obrony Szpitala (Commitee to Defend
the  Hospital), which was made up of mainly  women - doctors and nurses.
Thanks to that (i.e. unformal structure) the workers expressed their protest
in various interesting forms, among others:

* since the beginning of Novembver there is hunger strike;
* 20 workers have given up the Polish citizenship (they gave away their
passports);
* Rydygier asked for asylum in Holland and in Germany (By the way - this
funny action has been taken very seriously by the German consul, who offered
Rydygier workers jobs in Germany);
* workers walk down the streets in the center as  beggars, collecting "money
for life" from the pedestrians;
* Rydygier organised a "funeral march for Medical Care".

15th of November, during the visit of the Polish and German presidents in
Wroclaw, the workers made a blockade of one of the main streets in the city.
Police took brutal action, beating and detaining people irrespective of age
and sex. Many people, who just passed by, joined the demonstration and many
of them were also beaten.

The demands for payment of the money and for retaining their jobs were
transformed into more radical ones. The workers have begun to demand the
maintenance of the hospital and  general changes in the system of its
managment. K.O.S. made their own project of restructurisation of the
facility. It assumed - among others - liquidation of the institution of
director (which is in fact delegated by the authorities) and establishing a
council of representatives of sections. Such  demands can't be really
realised in the present system of Medical Care and it requires more general
changes (which would require the next ones, etc.).

The authorities are unrelenting in negotiations with Rydygier. Now they are
using some kind of blackmail: either Rydygier will allow the liquidation and
a part of workers will get jobs somewhere else or authorities will lead the
facility to bankruptcy. The members of K.O.S. were told that they will have
problems finding jobs. K.O.S. is also hard and doesn't want even to listen
about the liquidation. But - they have less and less power and they
definitely need a trump card in negotiations.

Such a trump card would be the solidarity of other facilities. Unfortunately
the authorities have a good strategy in this case: they told the workers
from other hospitals (many of whom also have problems) that eg. "either we
will pay salaries for Rydygier or some usual additional salary (the 13th)
for you". Rydygier is presented as a "living corpse", as ballast for the
Medical Care in Wroclaw. The other workers (from factories etc.) - despite a
big campaign for solidarity with Rydygier - don't want to be really engaged
in the case and even to publically express some support. The only support,
which Rydygier got, comes from the hospital's neighbourhood, which is a poor
and neglected district. Its inhabitants - among others - actively supported
Rydygier during the brutal police action on 15th of November; children from
the nearby school collected money for the striking people, neighbours took
part in every demonstration by  Rydygier.

As we mentioned above, since the middle of November local anarchist and
squatters groups, actively participate in the portests and are helping
K.O.S. in technical matters (eg. in a organistation of demonstrations) and
also giving other support. Police tried to accuse anarchists of bringing out
riots during blockade on 15th to excuse their brutal action. K.O.S.
definitely interceded for the anarchists and their cooperation  has
developed since that time.

Now the protesting workers strongly need all the support they can get - also
from  foreign groups, organisations and trade unions. If you can organise
some small demo near a Polish embassy or something like this (you can join
this case with the case of Ozarow) - it would be great. But it is enough
just to send a protest letter to the local authorities and Polish Prime
Minister and - what is also important - a few warm words to the brave women
from K.O.S. Below you can find the proper addresses and some links.

PHOTOS FROM THE PROTESTS:

Photos from the "funeral march":
http://galeria.poprostu.pl/szpitalna/

Photos from the blockade:
http://www1.gazeta.pl/wroclaw/5,35767,1130015.html
http://www.rmf.fm/wiadomosci/foto.html

ADRESSES, WHERE YOU CAN SEND YOUR PROTESTS:

Chancellery of the Prime Minister
fax: 022/ 628 68 46
email: leszek.miller@miller.pl
tel: (+48-22) 841-38-32,  (+48-22) 694-69-83

Local authorities:
Urząd Marszałkowski Woj. Dolnośląskiego
malgorzata.skorska@umwd.pl
tel: (+48-71) 374-90-00

THE ADDRESS OF K.O.S.:

tel.(+48 - 71) 329 - 91 - 77 wew. 380 i 420,
fax.(+48 -71) 328 - 88 - 67
adres: Komitet Obrony Szpitala im. L. Rydygiera
ul. L. Rydygiera 22/28
50-248 Wrocław
POLAND
e- mail: kos-rydygier@go2.pl


WZÓR LISTU:

Protestuję przeciwko planom likwidacji Szpitala im. L. Rydygiera we
Wrocławiu. Decyzja o likwidacji placówki, podjęta rok temu przez  zarząd
województwa, okazała się niezgodna z prawem, co potwierdził w październiku
b.r.  Naczelny Sąd Administracyjny. Zdumiewający w tym kontekście jest fakt,
iż władze województwa dążą do realizacji bezprawnej decyzji, nie licząc się
z losem pracowników ani pacjentów Szpitala.
Jestem wstrząśnięty tragiczną sytuacją pracowników "Rydygiera", którzy od
kilku miesięcy nie otrzymują należnych im wynagrodzeń lub otrzymują je z
dużym opóźnieniem. Zdumiewa mnie nieudolność lokalnych i centralnych elit
politycznych, których działania tylko pogarszają i tak tragiczną sytuację
placówki. Bardzo niepokoją mnie również sygnały o łamaniu podstawowych praw
obywatelskich, w tym prawa do pokojowego protestu w obronie godnych warunków
życia i pracy. Naruszenia tych praw dowiodła  m.in brutalna akcja sił
policyjnych przeciw zdesperowanym pracownikom blokującym niedawno jedną z
wrocławskich ulic. Uważam, że kłopoty Szpitala im. Rydygiera są
odzwierciedleniem błędnych rozwiązań systemowych w polskiej służbie zdrowia,
za których wprowadzenie należałoby ukarać urzędników państwowych, nie zaś
doświadczonych i wysoko wykwalifikowanych pracowników jednej z najlepszych
placówek medycznych w mieście.
Jestem zdania, że Wrocławia nie stać na likwidację placówki, która przy
innych rozwiązaniach systemowych przynosiłaby wymierne korzyści  miastu i
jego mieszkańcom.  Solidaryzując się z protestującą załogą Szpitala im.
Rydygiera, wnoszę do władz polskich o podjęcie skutecznych działań, które
powstrzymałyby proces niszczenia tej placówki medycznej oraz łamania praw
pracujących w niej pracowników i leczących się w niej pacjentów.


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