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(en) Poland, WORKERS' INITIATIVE: Congress of Women - Social or Neoliberal? Department: Trade union strategies [machine translation]

Date Sat, 7 Jul 2018 10:36:40 +0300

Radoslaw Sto. The text was written by the initiative group of the Social Women's Congress, appeared on the web page dailynikfeministyczny.pl ---- In recent days, it has become loud around the Congress of Women in connection with the case of security workers. Although the employees employed by Congress were women of flesh and blood, the organizers did not treat them as a nephew - if the orders to stand at attention and insults "idiots, idiot" we do not consider typical relations in a woman's family. ---- Both the disclosed working conditions of people employed at the service of the Congress, as well as the public reaction of the organizers of the CC, are difficult to consider as exceptional. Modern models of work management in companies often force the illusion of family loyalty. Harder work is to be done "for the good of all", "dirt is washed at home". Organizing around your own interests and fighting for decent conditions is suppressed as an act to the detriment of a joint company whose profits are no longer shared together. In the majority of such companies, the bosses and bosses treat employees and employees of the lower level similarly to the employees of KK protection. What is unique in this story is that these employees have decided to oppose and speak. The struggle for their rights, i.e. labor rights, had to fight with the organizers of the Congress, who allegedly fights for the rights of all "sisters" in Poland. The above dispute, in our opinion, is part of a wider problem: KK has many dimensions - among them there is also a strictly anti-social dimension. We do not undermine the huge work of many ordinary determined women in organizing this event. However, we are indignant as this work is appropriated for anti-social purposes.

Over the last 10 years, the Congress of Women allowed the organization of panels about the situation of employees alongside discussions about veganism and even the healing role of magnets. KK decision-making circles have not yet dealt with improving the economic position of the least-paid workers. Despite the fact that KK gathers a multitude of women, its basic, programmatic message shapes the shadow office. It consists of min. activist of the Confederation of Lewiatan, or an organization associating employers, who consistently fights for the weakening of the role of trade unions, deterioration of working conditions and cutting social security. Minister Teresa Kaminska - the president of the board of the Pomeranian Special Economic Zone is responsible for internal affairs. The minister of foreign affairs is the president of General Electric. The owner of Solaris Bus is responsible for the infrastructure, for gender equality - the chairwoman of the Supervisory Board of Allianz Bank Polska. And so on. If the Congress of Women came to power, his ministers would create the most pro-business, neoliberal government in the history of the Third Polish Republic. He would have a promil of public support. Such a social base would also have feminism in the version of Congress, if it were not embellished with panels of precariat or bio-magnets, deprived of influence on the Cabinet of Shadows.

Consequently, Congress is fighting for the interests of the best-placed women associated with large business and influential political circles. For this reason, feminism is sometimes associated in Poland with parities in supervisory boards, professional activation regardless of pay conditions or a glass ceiling (blocking promotions), but not with a fight for higher wages and lower rents.
Both in the past and in the context of recent online discussions, the organizers of the Congress are doing a lot to hide the contradiction of interests between businesswomen focused on increasing profits and employees or tenants who often struggle for physical survival. Congress appeals for sisterhood, solidarity, the necessity of dialogue between women, and at the same time his ministers from the Shadow Cabinet support a policy that aggravates the situation of workers' households. In our opinion, it loses credibility.

So far in the dispute between the KK organizers and security guards, the ministry-presidents of Lewiatan, Allianz and the Special Economic Zone are silent. In exchange, in the defense of the good name of the Central Committee, the public voice is taken up mainly by members or congress sympathizers associated with the left. Agata Szczesniak, Agnieszka Grzybek, Magdalena Sroda alternately accuse us - organizers of the Social Congress of Women - that we are breaking up the unity of women, pitting a poor Congress and supporting PiS. Their sensitization to the lack of unity among women is either selective or completely ignored by the most influential figures of Congress. One of his faces, the president of Warsaw, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, during the speeches at KK at the turn of the year used to point out that "Warsaw is a woman". "We are as brave as the Warsaw Mermaid. I wish that we would live well in Warsaw! " If the unity of women is taken seriously, it is the best moment to add: "in my city, brave sister Jolanta Brzeska was brutally murdered fighting for good living conditions." Waltz, however, did not use the KK's pulpit to appeal for solidarity with Brzeska to reach the ears of representatives of the US Congress, politicians from Europe, the duchess of Saudi Arabia, and regular guests. Magdalena Sroda, however, does not accuse President Gronkiewicz-Waltz that at the Congress she lost many chances to take PiS's initiative away. Reprivatization in Warsaw is still gathering its harvest, on the first front of the fight there are women associated, among others in the Warsaw Association of Tenants - they co-create the postulates of the Social Congress of Women. Instead of supporting them and influencing the Cabinet of Shadows, confronting KK ministers with these postulates, Szczesniak, Grzybek and Sroda limit their public role on the left and in the Congress of Women to pointing out to us - the trade unions and tenants' organizations - adventurism and disruptive activity. This role is part of the tradition of the Polish left as a façade that beautifies neoliberal projects. It also widens the huge gap between the postulates of the Social Congress of Women (announced in March this year) and the series of demands of the Shadow Cabinet at the last liberal Congress of Women.

WSL organizers - tenants of extremely expensive current apartments are struggling with debt, frost and poisonous fungus. High bills condemn them to more intense work, women from their districts live 5-10 years shorter than women in the elite Warsaw Wilanów. In addition to immediate connection to the municipal heating network, members of the Social Women's Congress demand real electricity subsidies or strong price reductions. The minister of energy of the liberal Congress of Women and former member of the board of the PGE corporation, Elzbieta Matuszewska, is lobbying for a reduction in electricity prices for entrepreneurs. The elite ministers apparently do not deserve serial employees and pensioners as privileges of the elite.

The parliamentary lobby of the Congress is silent about reparations for the victims of reprivatization. In the same way, the Shadow Cabinet remained silent for years when the government and the president of Warsaw transferred a total of nearly two billion zlotys to the beneficiaries of this procedure, forcing a series of social cuts to hit women and children. For example, the privatization of school canteens in the capital has taken stable employment for cooks, and on poorer mothers, it required more free work at home. Today, the president of Warsaw - one of the important faces of the Congress - decided to block bad compensation for reprivatization for Magda Brzeska, daughter of Jolanta - a murdered WSL activist.

Will Grzybek, Sroda and Szczesniak ask their friends from KK to convince Gronkiewicz-Waltz to change this completely antisocial decision? Or will they be satisfied with the knight's defense of the Congress's good name from the "wichrzycielkami" from the WSL and the Employee Initiative?!
At the turn of 2017 and 2018, the City Hall in Poznan protested against the feminized local government sector, in which hundreds of people took part. President Jacek Jaskowiak did not keep his previous promise, which was to guarantee a pay rise by 400 zlotys. Jaskowiak decided that women employed, among others in the care sector, social welfare or culture can wait. The National Congress of Women did not prevent him from granting him the prize of diversity, describing him as a proctor's policy. A few months later, the Wielkopolska Congress of Women recognized him as a leader in the promotion of equal opportunities for women and men.

We have no doubt that the leaders in terms of promoting equal opportunities are actively and organizing in Poznan (but not only) local government employees. For years, they have been fighting with successive presidents of cities, now with Jaskowiak, that their wages should be even if they pay their average wages in Poland. They actively participate in the Manifa, and from 2016 also in black protests, thus building a grassroots feminine movement. Their salary can not be compared with the incomes of the Wielkopolska Women's Congress supporting Jasiek. Promoting the neoliberal solutions that they stand for strikes women by maintaining the lowest wages in feminised occupations, the lack of social security, the lack of municipal housing, crèches, canteens and non-school activities, etc.

Employees of Poznan nurseries associated for 7 years in the labor union Employee Initiative are struggling to shorten the time of the press, improve health and safety conditions, a fairer pay structure, but also to increase the financing of the care sector, including the development of public care institutions. KK Magdalena Sroda, belonging to the shadow cabinet, said in her entry on Facebook that the Workers' Initiative is a Bolshevik organization. More than once we have heard this kind of opinion from the right wing, for which everything left on Opus Dei is Bolshevism. However, for the first time we hear it from the "feminist". Contrary to Sroda's claims, that our identity was shaped by mixing with the mud of the Congress of Women - our identity shaped over the years against the exploitation and humiliation of men and women from the elite of business and politics. An example of such a humiliation was a letter from the previous president of Poznan that, for the employees of nurseries, "according to the financial forecast, there are no hikes in 2012-2032". Our experience shows that elitism represented by politicians and Magdalena Sroda is the last thing that the women's movement needs in Poland.

Over the last years, the Congress of Women has become a symbol for us to push Polish feminism into business and politics. Thus, such feminism became alien to the working or storage environments. Undoubtedly, the Black Protests and the Women's Strike began to change the face of Polish feminism: both the language and the nature of the demands (strike, denial of work) and its class composition changed, as the working women and small towns that were not participants of the feminist movement were massively on the streets. .
This wave and the involvement of activists in the movement of tenants and employees, who themselves saw that women are often on the frontline of grassroots organization, led to the formation of the Social Congress of Women. It was initiated by Poznan nurseries, cultural institutions and tenants from Warsaw and Poznan. We wanted to expand the fight for higher wages and lower rents, which we have been rolling together for years, find common points, exchange experiences, learn from each other.

Regardless of whether men or women rule us, the current form of democracy does not defend us against work, which often changes our lives into a nightmare and a high price that forces us to work even harder. We do not want to be on the open market, we do not want to be businesswomen or deputies. We want to realize our needs on our own, not business needs. If the Congress of Women continues to be influenced by neoliberal positions, it will remain hostile to working people, regardless of their gender.

As the initiator of the Social Women's Congress, we are ready for a public debate about the nature of different varieties of feminism and our postulates in the light of the demands of the Cabinet of Shadows of the Congress of Women.

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