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(en) Poland, Workers' Initiative: Louder about this reform! -- Nationwide Protest Days - September 2013. [machine translation]

Date Tue, 3 Apr 2018 08:48:27 +0300


Dorota Gardias - chairwoman of the Federation of Trade Unions (the third largest trade union headquarters in Poland) - commenting on the debate on draft new labor codes prepared by the Codification Commission Labor Law, announced on March 26 on her blogthat "The new labor code does not exist!". The leader of the FZZ regrets that the discussion on changes in labor law "got out of hand" and individual solutions (such as new types of temporary employment contracts) discussed in the media by members and members of the Commission are presented as "some hard records" project that will definitely come into force. " Dorota Gardias argues that what KKPP has developed is only "a series of non-binding recommendations", which are to form the basis for a "real" discussion within the Social Dialogue Council (a forum for government cooperation and representative organizations of employers and trade unions at the national level). The text ends with a calming assurance that "eventually, none of the entries will come into effect."

Surprisingly, the representative of the trade union headquarters, who delegated a representative to work in the Commission, thinks that the body only worked out "recommendations" - one glance enough to state that KKPP prepared a complete two draft new legal acts: what is the result of its work is indistinguishable from the ministerial bill. And includes all the solutions that have been criticized in the media as anti-worker and anti-union: easier rules for dismissing, more flexible working time, new types of junk contracts (including "zero-hour contracts"), raising the representativeness thresholds at the company level, further limitation the right to strike, etc., etc. Moreover, these solutions have been prepared not by any accidental group,

It is hard to believe that the effect of the committee's work in such a composition is only "recommendations" that the government will treat casually. However, the reservation that new labor codes may change at further stages of the legislative process can be reported in relation to each legal act until it does not receive the presidential signature - amendments to draft legal acts may, after all, be submitted both in the Sejm and in the Senate and the President also has the right to veto or refer the application to the Constitutional Tribunal to examine the compliance of the legal act with the Constitution. Following this logic, it is always "too early" to criticize the solutions contained in the draft laws - regardless of whether they are government, deputies, civil or "expert" projects. Despite this, social protests against individual projects erupt at various stages of the legislative process - in the case of laws increasing access to abortion it was the first or second reading, but there were also protests already at the moment when the project assumptions were announced by individual ministries. And the earlier such protests break out, the greater the chance that unfavorable solutions contained in them will be stopped.

Why, then, does Gardias try to silence criticism of the planned labor law reform and calm public opinion? Why does not he sound an alarm when the discussion about easier dismissals begins and the basic employee rights of employees and employees of small businesses begin? Probably because it has smoothly entered the role that trade unions are designating by state authorities and capitalists - a "responsible participant of social dialogue", which is supposed to silence public dissatisfaction, creating the impression that participation in the Social Dialogue Council alone is enough to stop anti-worker reform. In this way - consciously or not - the FZZ spreads a protective umbrella over the government, relying on the grace and disfavor of the authorities and hoping that Law and Justice will care about maintaining the image of the "social" party. The problem is that, that not necessarily the current government will be interested in increasing the protection of the world of work. After the January reconstruction and taking over the portfolio of the Prime Minister by the banker Mateusz Morawiecki, it is clear that for the ruling party the priority is to win the favor of a business rather than continue the social course. However, last year's government's confrontations with employees and employees of education and health care show that the PiS can show great determination and ruthlessness in carrying out reforms, even if they raise resistance of trade unions. than to continue the social course. However, last year's government's confrontations with employees and employees of education and health care show that the PiS can show great determination and ruthlessness in carrying out reforms, even if they raise resistance of trade unions. than to continue the social course. However, last year's government's confrontations with employees and employees of education and health care show that the PiS can show great determination and ruthlessness in carrying out reforms, even if they raise resistance of trade unions.

Counting on the grace of power is therefore a great naivety. Just like closing discussions on how work relations in the Social Dialogue conference halls look. If trade unions really want to win higher wages, better employment conditions and greater control over work organization for the world of work, then they must behave contrary to what the head of the FZZ proposes. Our role is now to initiate the widest possible discussion on what law we need, how to facilitate workers and workers to create trade unions and how to look in practice the right to strike. For such a discussion to be fruitful, it can not limit itself to expert opinions - regardless of whether they are experts and experts of Solidarity, FZZ, OPZZ, Employee Initiative or Sierpnia 80. It must come from everyday experiences and problems with which we confront in workplaces and take into account the voices and experiences of various professional groups. It should also be under pressure from social protests and strike actions - otherwise business interests and political elites will prevail over even the best-justified proposals of trade unions.

Our ambition should now not be to revise the Codification Committee's projects, but to question the whole philosophy that forms the basis of this reform: On the one hand, it consists in deregulating and eliminating difficulties for employers to make redundancies and organize work time according to their needs (at the expense of employees and workers). On the other, forcing trade unions to "social dialogue" and introducing further conditions that they must meet in order to be able to use such tools as a strike. It is, moreover, a philosophy that has been the basis of virtually all changes in labor law for the last 30 years - regardless of whether they were ruled by liberals, conservatives or left-wing post-communists.

In 2013, FZZ together with "Solidarity", OPZZ, Sierpnia 80 and WZZ "Kontra" first organized a general strike in Silesia (in March), and then - in September - National Protest Days, in which also the Employee Initiative took part. This was one of the many factors that led the PO government to fall and then forced a number of changes in the labor law, for which the current power attributed to itself. It is these experiences that should be a reference point for us when we think about what to do with the current draft labor law reform.

Jakub Grzegorczyk

http://ozzip.pl/teksty/publicystyka/strategie-zwiazkowe/item/2359-glosniej-o-tej-reformie
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