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(en) Poland, 286th day of protest in Ozarow - Update

From Zaczek <hydrozag@poczta.onet.pl>
Date Sun, 12 Jan 2003 04:50:18 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

We visited Ozarow yesterday with some small help for buying coal.
The situation on the 286th day of the protest (all this time
the workers were blocking the entrance to the factory - lowest
temperature during this time was minus 26 degrees) is this:

- Another gate has been opened by the security guards and trucks
with fuel were able to get inside with supplies of fuel for the lifters
used to disassemble machines in the factory. This means that another
blockade had to be established there, which is difficult given the small
of people who still have energy to protest. However no new trucks with
have left the factory since early december when i last reported. But the new
of the factory has achieved what he wanted: the factory stopped
manufacturing cable, and his corporation has got rid of competition.

- The protesters are now trying to establish a workers' company for which
they demand financial guarantees from the city Ozarow. If this succeeds
they want to demand that the minister of industry gives them back part
of the factory so that they can resume production. So far the only thing
the government has promised is to create a special economic zone
in Ozarow (this is forbidden under regulations imposed by EU,
so they have to find some tricky way creating a sub-zone of an
already existing one). In the opinion of workers this will be worthless
there is no talk of any production of cable in this future zone.

- Ex-workers find it impossible to find other jobs. Most of them are
over 40 years old, which means nobody wants to employ them. Usually
when they say "i'm from Ozarow" the interview is over. The employers
don't want someone who can fight for their rights. The material
situation of ex-workers is getting desperate.

During the last weeks, miner trade-unions have signed aggreements
to close more coal mines in Silesia. Ozarow people counted on their
solidarity, but nothing much came out of it. A woman from Ozarow said
that the owner could have easily tricked the people working
in the cable factory too, and they would have disassembled the
factory themselves and not resisted if the layoffs were gradual. The only
thing that mobilised them was the extreme arrogance of the new owner.

They still express disbelief how it's possible that the government
is creating the conditions for a total collapse of the entire country's

The situation is very depressing, because even though the struggle
in Ozarow has a big significance as a symbol and example
for future struggles, it is rather unlikely that the cable workers will
gain anything for themselves from this.

It might work as a threat forcing other employers for more
respect for workers, maybe in the way that the threat of
communism forced better social standards in western europe.
But those living under communism hardly profited from that...


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