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(en) Poland, WORKERS' INITIATIVE: Work strikes and protests in Poland in the first half of 2017. [machine translation]

Date Sun, 1 Apr 2018 09:34:00 +0300


Protest of the PNA under the Sejm in November 2016. ---- The first half of 2017 brought a significant increase in the number of strike actions compared to previous years. This is probably the first symptom of the social crisis in the field of employer-employee relations in the period when both wages and employment are growing, and the government exercises a party considered to be "pro-social". Importantly, a more accurate analysis of strike activity indicates that the practices of organizing employee protests beyond the legal regulations of the Act on the resolution of collective disputes - the occupation of workplaces, Italian strikes, spontaneous pickets and demonstrations are becoming more frequent. ---- As the strike is, in our opinion, the key means to achieve the goals of the labor movement, we have decided and decided in a small group of people from the Warsaw Workers' Initiatives committees to start monitoring strike activity in Poland.
Our monitoring is based on data analysis of the Central Statistical Office and media mentions on employee protests (searched in nationwide and local media using Google Alerts). In this way, we want to get a fuller picture of workers' protests in Poland and take into account not only strikes organized by trade unions under the restrictive Act on the resolution of collective disputes, but also other forms of refusal of employment by employees and employees. Therefore, we define strikes broadly - as "organized employee presentations involving the organization of pressure on entrepreneurs or state authorities in the form of total or partial interruption of work or disruption of the normal course of the production process or service delivery, aimed at causing losses to the entrepreneur or manifesting the position of the state authorities ". This study and methods used in it are inspired by the research of the World Labor Group at the University of Binghamton in the 1980s (based on which, among others, the book Beverly Silver "Global Proletariat" was created). aimed at causing losses to the entrepreneur or manifesting his attitude towards the actions of the state organs ". This study and methods used in it are inspired by the research of the World Labor Group at the University of Binghamton in the 1980s (based on which, among others, the book Beverly Silver "Global Proletariat" was created). aimed at causing losses to the entrepreneur or manifesting his attitude towards the actions of the state organs ". This study and methods used in it are inspired by the research of the World Labor Group at the University of Binghamton in the 1980s (based on which, among others, the book Beverly Silver "Global Proletariat" was created).

According to the CSO report on the socio-economic situation in the country in the first half of the previous year, in the period from January to the end of June 2017, there were 1.5 thousand strikes in which 29.3 thousand people took part. For comparison, in the entire 2016, according to the Central Statistical Office, only 4 strikes took place, in which 700 employees and employees took part. Data from previous years look similar (2015 - 4 strikes, 2014 - 3 strikes, 2013 - 93 strikes). It is possible that the first half of last year was a moment of breaking the long-term tendency that has persisted since the mid-1990s, according to which there are few strikes in Poland.

What is important, this abrupt increase in the number of strikes and people participating in the refusal of work took place in the period when the average employment in the enterprise sector increased by 4.4% and the average nominal gross remuneration by 6%. In the corresponding period of 2016, the increase of both indicators was much lower and amounted to 3% and 3.9% respectively. So we have a situation in which employee dissatisfaction grows in a situation of relative improvement of living conditions and with unchanged level of unionization. This could be considered a paradox, because, according to many sociologists, protests are intensifying in conditions critical to employees (as Prof. Juliusz Gardawski from SGH believes) and the low level of strikes results directly from the low level of unionisation (such as Prof. Henryk Domanski from the Polish Academy of Sciences, he explained a small number of strikes in 2016).

The increase in the number of strikes in the first half of last year must therefore be explained in a different way. In our opinion, the all-Polish one-day general strike organized on March 31 by the Polish Teachers 'Union in a protest against the reform of education eliminating the gymnasium was of key importance for the dynamics of workers' protests in this period. The PNA demanded employment guarantees for all those working in schools until 2022 and a 10% pay rise - the Ministry of National Education did not withdraw from the reform, declaring that no one will lose their jobs due to changes and announcing the schedule of increases in April. Although the strike did not stop the reform, it was a demonstration of the Union's mobilization capabilities. Due to the law in force, the PNA action required a collective dispute procedure in each of the schools, which directly translated into the number of strike actions in the previous year. By. PST estimates of strike actions March 31 were held in 40% of educational institutions across the country (ie over 11,000 schools), while the Ministry of National Education announced that the strike included only 11% of branches (or slightly more than 3,000 schools) - independently however, from what data will be taken into account, the number of schools struck is higher than all strike actions that the CSO has registered, which confirms our supposition that the statistics of the Office are not in themselves valid in terms of strike activity.

The GUS statistics do not include protests of paramedics, taxi drivers and wild strikes organized by employees and employees without the participation of trade unions. The protest in emergency medical services began on May 24 last year and consisted in flagging buildings and transporting all patients with ambulances on the signal. Rescuers demanded four rises of PLN 400 each. (in July and September 2017 and in January 2018 and January 2019). The Ministry of Health, under which the demonstration took place on 30 June, finally proposed two increases of 400 zlotys - in July 2017 and in July 2018, which led to a temporary suspension of the shares. June 5, 2017 in Warsaw, Poznan and Lodz. Uber and other unlicensed carriers opposed illegal activities of taxi drivers. In Warsaw alone, over 2,000 drivers organized a trip to the center, starting at five points on the outskirts of the city. The action was coordinated by the trade union "Warsaw Taxi Driver". In addition to nationwide protests, in the first half of last year there were also at least a few spontaneous actions in individual workplaces: on February 3, Ukrainians and Ukrainians employed by the subcontractor of the slaughterhouse Pini Polonia in Kutno blocked the plant's gates by demanding payment of outstanding wages; On March 21, a two-hour spontaneous strike was carried out by employees of the Kirchhoff Automotive factory (demanding higher allowances for work on weekends); March 27, nurses from the hospital in Staszów (province Swietokrzyskie Voivodeship) occupied the director's office demanding that the remuneration demands made by OZPiP be met; On April 25, employees of Transgór SA (collective transport) blocked the roundabout in Rybnik demanding increases;

In total, in the first half of the previous year, based on media monitoring, we managed to register 102 employee conflicts, of which 42 were in the form of a formal collective dispute, and 10 ended in various forms of strike action (interruption of work) - others were in the form of either negotiations or pickets street. This is a much lower number than the one provided by the Central Statistical Office - the difference most probably results from the fact that in media relations the general strike in education was presented as "one strike action". Nevertheless, such monitoring allowed to see the above-described wild strikes and distinguishing important strikes organized by trade unions: a three-week strike in the iron foundry in Zawiercie (concluded with an agreement regarding wages), a two-hour warning strike in Elblag trams, strike at the Baltic Opera in Gdansk and in the hospitals: Staszowski and them. John Paul II in Krakow.

Interestingly, most of the conflicts about which we were able to collect information related to wage issues - regardless of whether they took place in the public sector or in private companies, the level of remuneration was the motivating factor for employees and employees to put collective pressure on employers. This is probably due to two reasons: firstly, not everyone feels wage increases (or considers it insufficient), and secondly - increasing the level of social security due to an increase in the minimum wage, reducing the unemployment rate and introducing social benefits in the Family 500 plus program could have contributed to encourage employees and employees to fight for their rights.

Elaborated by: Szymon Sierminski, cooperation: Jakub Grzegorczyk

http://ozzip.pl/teksty/publicystyka/walki-pracownicze/item/2358-strajki-i-protesty-pracownicze-w-pierwszej-polowie-2017
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