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(en) Poland, Workers initiative, ozzip.pl: Report from the 2nd Social Congress of Women. For higher wages and lower rents [machine translation]
Fri, 2 Nov 2018 08:41:48 +0200
On October 13, 2018, in Poznan, the second edition of the Social Women's Congress took
place. Over 100 people representing 20 labor, accommodation and women's organizations
participated in it. Almost 9 hours we discussed the problems we face in our workplaces and
in our cities. During the first edition of the Congress, which took place in March this
year, we developed 20 program postulates regarding the issues of employees and tenants. On
September 8, we organized a debate on which the tenants confronted their demands with the
candidates for the mayor of Warsaw. The Second Congress in Poznan served to summarize our
struggles before the new cadence of the local government began. ---- The first part of the
meeting referred to the genesis and meaning of the six postulates, which are directly
related to the ongoing activities undertaken by women associated in the Workers
Initiative, in Warsaw and the Wielkopolska Tenant Association.
1) Raise wages in institutions paid from the city and voivodeship budget.
(Inter-enterprise Commission OZZ IP at the Nursery Teams in Poznan and the Factory
Commission of the OZZ IP at the Clinical Hospital of the Transfiguration).
2) Abolish rents and debts and start real payments for heating up with electricity until
all communal and social premises are connected to CO (Warsaw Association of Tenants).
3) Inclusion of the time allocated for commuting to the place of work in the total time of
the working day (the OZZ Inter-enterprise Commission Inicjatywa Pracownicza in Amazon
Fulfillment Poland Sp.zoo).
4) Adjustment of the income criterion when granting municipal and social housing,
abolition of the yardage criterion and introduction of rules for granting social premises
that meet the real needs of residents and residents of municipalities (Wielkopolska
Association of Tenants).
5) Universal pension at the minimum wage level (Environmental Committee of Journalists and
Journalists at OZZ IP).
6) Stop the reprivatization of real estate and repair the social harm caused by it.
(Warsaw Association of Tenants).
During the second part of the Congress, we divided into three groups, in which we
discussed the activities that enabled implementation of the postulates from the list that
we created during the first edition of the Congress.
1st group regarding tenants' demands
The fight for better housing conditions belongs to the sphere of struggle for better
living conditions for women. We have considered together the question: what is the reason
that most of them are women who engage in condominiums activities? Local organizers from
Warsaw, Lódz and Poznan emphasized that at home women not only rest after work, but also
do unpaid care work. For women, a home is a second workplace, for which, in addition, they
have to pay rent (which often absorbs most wages). Most often, women are responsible for
cleaning the flat (but also washing, ironing, etc.), which means that in communal premises
without CO they usually wash away poisonous fungi and mold from the walls, which is why
they are more often exposed to dangerous diseases. In addition, women more often than men
take care of administrative matters related to housing, they more often deal with the
household budget and pay bills for the flat. Observations in the group were in line with
recent CBOS surveys. It is not surprising then that it is women who protest against poor
housing conditions and excessive fees.
We also mentioned that women more often than men keep in touch with their neighbors, hence
it is easier for them to build solidarity in the joint struggle for a roof over their
heads. In violent relationships, it is often the woman who is forced to leave her
apartment with her children. In such situations, the possibility of renting a flat cheaply
allows you to stand on your own.
During the meeting, we decided to try to coordinate some activities at the inter-city
level. In particular, as the already cooperating Warsaw and Wielkopolska WSLe, we want to
try to clarify the ties in the field of tenants with the Lodz Association "Bratnia Pomoc",
the Wroclaw Lokatorka Action, the Lublin Lokator Action and the Social Justice Movement.
The workshop meeting was attended by delegates from Warsaw and Wielkopolska WSL, RSS and
"Bratniej Pomocy", but we are counting on the participation of organizations from Wroclaw
and Lublin in further works.
According to the findings, we want to try to intervene at inter-city level through a
common slogan-postulate (based on the first SKK accommodation postulate): Universal access
to public housing by expanding the resource, and changing income and metric criteria.
These apartments should be cheap, healthy (i.e., unheated and with access to central
heating) and adapted to the needs (e.g. disabled people).
In order to start the coordination, we decided that we would like to publish a brochure
that would include:
1) developing the situation of the municipal / social housing stock in the city (number
and status, main problems)
2) Developing the fight for better housing as a struggle to improve women's lives, based
on discussion from the workshop.
3) a model project of changing a housing resolution to be adopted at the self-government
level in each city. The project would enable implementation of our postulate on universal
access at the legal level and would be developed by a supporting legal group (proposed by
a female attorney present at the workshop). The draft resolution would contain legal
grounds for the introduction of a municipal housing protection system for women victims of
violence based on experience from Wroclaw.
Second group regarding postulates of public sector employees
The workshop focused primarily on the specificity of the public sector and the resulting
consequences for our attempts to self-organize. The state in which wages in the public
sector depend on the directorates of the facilities, from the central or local government,
allows the three entities to avoid liability for poor working conditions and pay. Despite
the fact that the economic situation has improved, for the last 10 years local and central
authorities justify cutting and marginalizing the public sector with the financial crisis.
The fictitious professions related to care, hospital maintenance, education, culture etc.
are invariably treated by politicians as unnecessary ballast. We must continue to oppose
the conservative-liberal politics, which recognizes our work only as a cost.
After last year's protests in Poznan, which resulted from the promise of a promise not
paid by the president, the situation has not changed. President Jaskowiak, together with
the rest of liberal politicians, continues to emphasize the importance of women for Polish
democracy. His policy, however, prevents us from actually participating in this system.
This is because the maintenance of low wages forces us to long hours of work after which
the only thing we can get involved in is to gather forces before the next day of grinding.
The city's budget is not just a profit and loss statement. Its shape determines political
decisions. The current authorities have been doing nothing for the past four years to
improve the situation of feminised and low-paid jobs that allow public institutions to
function. In fact, the problem is not the city budget too small, but the unequal
distribution of funds - for high salaries and bonuses for officials, low wages and cuts
for public employees. Without changing the rules for dividing public finance, politicians
will always push us to the margins. Similar cases could be mentioned much more, such as
the difficult situation of the kindergarten workers in Belchatów associated in the Unions
'Workers' Union or employees of Poznan's hospitals financed by the central authorities.
During the discussion, we agreed
Another important problem is that people employed in budget units are systematically
divided into those who receive higher wages and those working at hunger rates. In
hospitals, pay inequalities are formalized by means of laws, e.g. the recently introduced
Law on Medical Employees. In this way, solidarity between individual professional groups
breaks down and hierarchies between them. Instead of focusing on inequalities in wages
between women and men (which are the largest among managers in Poland), inequalities
between individual professions should be eliminated. Within the so-called Professions of
feminised pay inequalities are small, while differences between the industries themselves
often take on a significant scale.
The specificity of public institutions lies in the fact that their management is sensitive
to their own image. Its undermining can increase the impact of information campaigns,
protests and strikes. During their lifetime, it is worth taking actions that will allow
the residents to gain support. Bad working conditions, living in scarcity and overworking
of people employed in budgetary institutions also threaten those who use their services.
Bad working conditions in the budget sector are poor living conditions in the city and the
responsibility for this state of affairs is on the management and authorities. Moreover,
in the case of determining our demands, we do not want to be guided by their usefulness
for business and whether their implementation will increase productivity. We are fighting
to regain our lives for us and our relatives, to have time for our own passions, friends,
family. Our role is not to improve business operations and increase its profits. We
require better terms of employment to be able to refuse to work two jobs without fear that
someone will find us inefficient. What we consider to be socially useful does not have to
bring profit to business.
Fighting for better working conditions and pay, we must not forget that no plant can
function without employees and employees. This is the source of our strength. If we are
experts in the stable operation of the plant, we also know how to disrupt its operation in
such a way as to reduce the efficiency of work. Employees gave several examples of slowing
down or refusing to work, which forced the management to change several problematic
issues. Among them were such activities as refusal to perform activities beyond the scope
of duties, calm work while maintaining health and safety rules. These activities draw
attention to the shortage of personnel and work overload, and at the same time do not
force us to conduct demeaning discussions with the management.
III group regarding postulates related to the organization of work:
Ministers participated in the discussion on postulates related to work organization.
people associated under the OZZ Employee Initiative and employed in Amazona, Volkswagen
and non-governmental organizations, a representative of coalitions associating female
employees employed in sex business and persons supporting care workers in homes for the
The introduction to the discussion concerned the linking of hired work, full-time or
precarious work, with reproductive work, i.e. performed in households. Many demands
seemingly related only to the wage labor zone, such as payroll (raise) or related to work
organization (right to break and rest, impact on the pace of work through social control
of norms) is directly related to the work done by all, though definitely more often by
women, caring work, as well as what we do in the so-called free time, indispensable for us
to be able to come back to work again. For example, we are demanding higher wages, not to
have to work overtime, and spend time with your family instead. We demand breaks, rest at
work, weekends and a lower pace of work,
Not only is physical depletion the work discussed in detail on the example of Amazon or
Volkswagen, but also on psychological pressure, exerted by continuous control, or we are
making norms, or - as discussed in the non-governmental sector - mobbing and the resulting
health problems psychological, related to the use of violence in foundations and
organizations. The proposing answer may be building a trade union as a support network (eg
by resisting the management board's pressure to "sacrifice" for the foundation's mission,
that is, sacrifice their rights and health as employees, or the idea of introducing union
workers to the councils) from other foundations to influence working conditions).
In sectors related to the third sector, care work or sex work, the main problem is the
bargaining of employment contracts and the use of mandate contracts despite a clear
employment relationship (provision of work under the supervision of the superior, at a
specific place and time) or work in black. It is connected with the lack of paying
overtime, and even the possibility of receiving them - which in the third sector, for
example, results from the high pace of work imposed by the dates of projects and grants.
In such a situation, it may be useful to monitor and publicize the replacement of
contracts of employment with contracts in organizations - sending inquiries to the
organization (when they announce the recruitment under the terms of the mandate
agreement), why they do not want to apply contracts of employment - which now brings
effect and more and more organizations the order is withdrawn from the contracts.
Also, employees of nursing home private network for the elderly, whose example is
discussed, have problems with employment contracts: sometimes over half of the
childminders work on a contract, but they do not want to accept employment contracts,
because then they would not be able to work overtime and their basic salary is not enough
for maintenance. As a consequence, contracts work 200-230 hours a month for 24- or even
32-hour changes, which ends up with health problems (mainly with the backbone). Some sleep
in centers to save, their work is strictly controlled: the performance of each care
activity must be confirmed on the barcode reader.
We talked about the tools of action, resisting and organizing: from informal ones, such as
a common refusal to adapt to any job requirements (joint breaks, slowing down work), to
formal: collective disputes, lawsuits (over a dozen running an IP committee at Amazon,
including in the scope of standards), cooperation with external institutions to defend
employee rights (Labor Inspectorate, Labor Inspection Laboratory measuring energy
expenditure, Construction supervision), legal advice. In the care sector, a good strategy
is to build solidarity with the recipients of services (eg patients and patients'
families), to strengthen the strength of employees and to put pressure on the management.
The Volkswagen Commission discussed the questionnaire, which the colleagues conducted
among the crew - as a tool on the one hand to formulate demands and exert pressure on the
board (eg when the management wants to introduce unfavorable changes in working time - the
survey concerned the introduction of an additional weekend change and clear criteria for
moving to a new factory - employees did not know who and on what terms will be
transferred); and shortening the billing time (so that overtime is paid immediately). The
survey gave the visibility of the trade union, gave the floor to the employees in their
own case and the opportunity to influence the change in the workplace.
The last plenary discussion of Congress focused on the content of the statement we
issued[Declaration of the organizers of the Second Social Congress of Women: What do we
demand from the new authorities]and the issue of organizing the next congress. The Social
Congress of Women was established to strengthen current struggles by working out joint
employment and tenant demands. I and II SKK in Poznan and the debate of SKK in Warsaw were
organized as members of the Workers' Initiative and Warsaw and Wielkopolska WSL
committees. The discussion on II SKK's statement showed the willingness of other
organizations and environments to use SKK as a tool to strengthen the struggles in the
social field. The organization of III SKK was announced by delegates from Torun.
Organizations participating in the II SKK: the Social Justice Movement, the
Inter-Enterprise Workers' Union "Zjednoczeni", the Warsaw Association of Tenants, the
Wielkopolska Association of Tenants, the National Trade Union Workers Initiative, the 8
March Initiative (Wroclaw), the Academic Protest Committee, the Total Party, the Sex Work
Poland Coalition , Manifa Poznan, In Our Case, Women's Torun Stroke, Foundation No Only
Mother Poland, Collective Manifa Torunska, Association "Bratnia Pomoc", Abortive Dream
Team, Women's Eye Analyzer, Feminoteka, Women's Agreement March 8
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