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(en) Poland, WORKERS' INITIATIVE: Poznan without eviction, poverty and exploitation. 25 years of Rozbrat [machine translation]

Date Tue, 17 Sep 2019 11:05:44 +0300

In October 1994, several people spent the first night in the buildings located at Pulaskiego 21a in Poznan. This is how the history of Poznan's Rozbrat begins. Today, it is one of the oldest occupied socio-political centers in Europe celebrating its 25th anniversary. On September 14, a demonstration will pass through the streets of Poznan, at which trade unionists from the Workers' Initiative will also speak. ---- Of course, this was not the first time when desperate people occupy vacancy to have a place to live. Thousands of families in Poland do so in response to the housing situation. However, Rozbrat was a broader project from the beginning. Occupation of abandoned, abandoned buildings eventually turned into social, political and cultural activities. Sklot was to affect the whole city and support grassroots initiatives and movements opposing state oppression and the business dictate.

Against displacement

The natural consequence of the creation of Rozbrat was the willingness to support other people occupying vacancy and opposition to the commercialization of housing. When mass evictions began at the end of the 1990s, Rozbrat and the Anarchist Federation (FA) operating there, organized the first evictions blockades. At the turn of 2011 and 2012, FA and residents of the "cleaned tenement house" on ul. Piaskowa was founded by the Greater Poland Tenants' Association.

It was a milestone in the fight for the rights of tenants in Poznan. The tenant movement in the city has consolidated. Dozens of evictions were not allowed. What's more, actively and successfully demanded the liquidation of the container estate, debt relief for municipalities, the start of a wide program of construction of available housing and that the rules for granting social housing be changed. "House cleaners" were successfully opposed. Activists and activists from Rozbrat were the first in Poznan to start cooperation with the poorest inhabitants of the city - Romanians of Romanian origin living on a hillside.

People first, then profits

The first meetings of the Employee Initiative (in 2001) were also held at Rozbrata. The goal of this yet informal group was to support protesting employees and defend dismissed trade unionists. Three years later, Poznan FA and Cegielski's employees jointly established a "regular" trade union under the same name. Today - as we know - IP has over 3,000 members gathered in about 70 committees operating in industry, education, logistics, culture, social protection, etc. In the Poznan agglomeration, we managed to establish IP organizations in Cegielski, Amazon, Volkswagen, and Poznan nurseries, theaters, hospitals.

One of the commissions operates on Rozbracie. The Poznan Inter-Enterprise Committee helps many professional groups, e.g. recently porters working on outsourcing (which we described in more detail in previous issues of our Newsletter). More and more often injured immigrant workers from Ukraine come to her. First of all, the Commission is trying to recover their overdue salaries.

In defense of greenery

Activists from Rozbrat took part in ecological actions - in blocking the devastation of nature on the Saint Anna Mountain (still in the 90s), on the Rospuda, in the Bialowieska Forest. Rozbrat itself is located in an area that is an integral part of the Poznan West Green Wedge. This area is of interest to developers. However, the construction of wedges causes the city to suffocate, and smog becomes one of the main ecological problems (as in many Polish cities).

Demonstrations in defense of green areas came out many times from Rozbrat. One of the first protests of this type broke out around the area that enthusiasts of the elite sport, which is golf, saw. From 2005, there was a struggle to ensure that the valuable and open area was not turned into a fenced hole with holes. Today, the Poznan authorities announced that it will be afforested and remain open to the public.

Let's do it ourselves

Rozbrat is often associated with cultural activities. Over 25 years of existence, over 500 concerts have been organized here with the participation of over 1,000 music bands, over 150 film screenings, about 30 different types of festivals, as well as many other events such as exhibitions, discussions, theater shows and happenings. The "free school" project has been successfully developed for a year, where professional teachers give free English, French, Flemish, Italian etc. lessons as well as mathematics and chemistry.

Freedom Fighters Gym has also been thriving on Rozbracie for some time - Muay Thai, Yoga, Kettlebell and Cross Training workouts. Here, Polish champions and champions of various sports disciplines have trained and trained. In total, hundreds of participants took part in approximately 2,500 free classes of this type organized so far.

Rozbrat stays!

Screen printing workshop, bicycle workshop, rehearsal room for music bands - all these initiatives show that you can organize differently, without subsidies and sponsors, on a non-commercial basis, building a socio-political center accessible to everyone, regardless of how much money they have in their wallet or where they come from.

However, Rozbrat is a salt in the eye of the local power and business elite. An attempt has now been made to bid on the area it occupies, which may be attractive to developers. The community centered around this place began a broad campaign in defense of Rozbrat. A similar auction was attempted 10 years ago. At that time Rozbrat managed to defend himself. To make it happen today, he needs extensive support from various sides.

An article by Jarek Urbanski, which appeared in the latest issue of the Bulletin of Incijatywy Pracowniczej > download PDF with the entire number

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