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(en) May 1 in Poland

Date Wed, 02 May 2007 16:51:48 +0300

On May 1 this year there seemed to be more small and medium-sized marches than usual in different cities throughout Poland. Anarchists organized marches in Poznan and in Warsaw. --- The march in Poznan drew about 200-300 people and went from the Cegielski plant on a march through town. In Cegielski there has been a conflict between workers and the management over pay and a few days earlier there were some protests in front of the factory. Unfortunately few of the people who worked there came, probably prefering to enjoy the long weekend. Protestors demanded a self-managed republic and told the government to go to work for 600 zloties a month (150 euros). Speakers demanded a 30% wage increase for everybody. (Surely there's more to say, but not being there, I just rely on the info in the anarchist press. I was at the Warsaw march, so I can say more about it.)

The march in Warsaw drew some fewer people (150) and was cursed with a few problems with broken equipment and police - it even snowed during the demonstration. So things started late and some people left early, meaning that the demonstration did not "accidentally" run into the demonstration of the left parties (SLD, SDPL) and sell-out union OPZZ. Perhaps that saved us; there had been rumours and the radio announced that they were expecting riots in Warsaw so a large group of police were staked out around the corner from the demo.

The march planned to visit a few sites: the McDonalds recruitment center, the Ministry of Finance, the Labour Court and the Ministry of Labour. At McDonalds, we protested against not only the working conditions there, but against the growing amount of McJobs being created. At the Minister of Finanse, we spoke about the Thatcherite economics of our Minister, criticizing draconian budget cuts and the false idea that cutting taxes and passing on the social security, health care and pension burdens to workers will create new jobs. There were some big funny pictures of our Finance Minister and she was cut into pieces in the action.

There was a problem with snow and with both technical equipment and the permission to move down the street with our crazy vehicle which delayed the march, so two protest stops were cut so we could attempt to catch up with the red bourgeoise who were going to have a picnic; anarchists organized a picnic next to them. Unfortunately, the politicians were all hiding inside their party HQ celebrating the anniversary of Poland's accession to the EU, so they didn't get a chance to get a piece of anarchist "birthday cake" or to have a chat with us. But there was a lively exchange with the few body-builder trade union bureaucrats who stayed at the picnic behind some rows of police and private security. Anarchists criticized their type of bureaucratic, sell-out unionism and were called "fucking socialists" by the unionists.

It seems like both demos had a nice atmosphere, although there were some nervous moments at the beginning in Warsaw. In general, it seems like the movement is in a low period throughout Poland, partly because of a large emigration, and partly (I think) because of a tendency to look for larger, more general left and liberal initiatives. So it was nice that the tradition of May Day is still alive and was remembered by anarchists.
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