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(en) Poland, ozzip, Employee Initiative The National Commission is critical about the government's draft anti-crisis shield [machine translation]

Date Sat, 28 Mar 2020 10:25:36 +0300

Enough playing with human life! We do not want to be a living anti-crisis shield!
Mar 23, 2020 Department: Documents ---- The position of the OZZ National Commission Employee Initiative towards the government's "anti-crisis shield" ---- The Employee Initiative critically assesses the government's plan of the "anti-crisis shield". Both the amount allocated for assistance and the proposed solutions are far from sufficient or even wrong. Many proposals contained in the "shield" will lead to lower wages, weakening trade unions and even greater subordination of employees to employees. We categorically oppose any wage cuts, which are a form of passing on to employees and employees the costs of the crisis caused by the coronavirus epidemic. ---- In addition, we are particularly critical of the following elements of the government's proposals:

1. A huge number of people employed on junk contracts (orders, for specific work, for a limited period), by the so-called outsourcing, temporary or self-employment agencies will suffer the most. From day to day they faced the threat of losing their earnings and lack of any benefits. Meanwhile, the government assumes only one-off assistance in the amount of PLN 2,000 gross, which, given the predictions that the collapse will last for many months, is a form of alms rather than real support.

2. 2,5 mln ludzi w Polsce pozbawionych jest nie tylko ubezpieczenia chorobowego i nie moze isc na platne zwolnienie lekarskie, ale takze zdrowotnego - ma dostep jedynie do podstawowej opieki zdrowotnej i w przypadku koniecznosci skorzystania ze specjalistycznej pomocy lekarskiej lub pobytu w szpitalu musi za te uslugi placic. Epidemia koronawirusa jednoznacznie dowodzi, ze powszechne prawo do ochrony zdrowia lezy w interesie calego spoleczenstwa - w tej kwestii, "tarcza" nie przewiduje jednak zadnych istotnych zmian.

3. The government is trying to focus public attention on the issue of preserving jobs and thus justifies diverting huge sums of money to entrepreneurs. They will gain, among others wage subsidies during downtime and the possibility of reducing the salary of an employed crew by up to half! This means that the beneficiaries of government assistance are employers, and its costs are borne by employees and employees.

4. The proposed changes in labor law give employers a lot of freedom in unilaterally imposing changes in the organization of work on employees (especially when it comes to working time or economic downtime). In a country where trade unions and all forms of employee control have been systematically fought at workplaces, this means a lack of social control over the use of funds that companies will receive from the state budget, and the inability to counteract attempts by employers of "anti-crisis measures" severe by employees ", Which you don't need to enter.

5. The government has not stammered at all about unemployment benefits. In periods of high unemployment, trade unions have repeatedly indicated that unemployment benefits are too low and the time for which they are allocated is too short. For example, in December 2019, only 16.4% of registered unemployed persons were entitled to the benefit, and its amount was only PLN 741.87 net for the first 3 months. If we assume that we are dealing with a serious crisis, the government must also accept that there will be a significant increase in the number of unemployed people who need income to survive.

6. A massive wave of dismissals of people employed on junk contracts (orders, work, self-employed and fixed-term employment contracts) in industries such as gastronomy, tourism, entertainment, or at subcontractors of institutions from the public services industry highlights the pathological nature of these forms of employment. Meanwhile, the government's message to those working in these industries is "you had to insure yourself." As if the issue of sickness insurance in mandate contracts depended solely on employees' decisions and as if people employed on junk contracts were not faced with additional problems: day-to-day dismissals, no severance pay, no real possibility of legal protection against unjustified dismissal or lack of remuneration for downtime.

7. We categorically oppose any changes aimed at making work more flexible (e.g. working time by extending the reference period). For three decades, the government's standard response to crises (real and presumed) has been to make employment more flexible, with disastrous effects on the sustainability of employment relationships. Today, the government proves that it can operate only in the canon of neoliberal economic policy, which always ultimately seeks to weaken the position of employees on the labor market.

8. The proposed package does not address the issue of the deepening problem of low pensions and the protection of this group of employed (earning) from the effects of the crisis.

9. Little space was also devoted to protecting home budgets against rising food prices and housing charges, and the consequences of loss of income such as arrears, debt to utility companies (electricity, heating, gas), the threat of eviction or bailiff auction of private housing.

10. The government's proposal comes at a time when democratic public consultation procedures and codecision are suspended on these issues that are important to us all. Therefore, we are afraid that the stream of possible help will be directed primarily to the banking sector, which - as you know - has the strongest impact on today's world of politics. In fact, a significant part of the PLN 212 billion aid package goes to the financial sector. The previous economic crisis (2007-2008) led to the fact that the same banking sector consumed not billions, but literally billions of dollars and euros. When the next breakdown has now taken place, the financial sector is by no means helpful in saving the economy, but it will drag it to the bottom. Is a scandal that the ruling class has not drawn enough lessons from the previous crisis and today puts us all against blackmail by the financiers. The problem boils down to, among others to the fact that banks (private and commercialized) are in possession of our salaries, which means that we are today under their pressure and blackmail. Therefore, the National Bank of Poland, in consultation with the government, decided to increase the liquidity of banks by releasing them from the obligation to create reserves (PLN 40 billion)

11. Subsequent neoliberal governments (including PiS twice) are responsible for the fact that the needs of the following industries have been systematically ignored: health care, social assistance, care for the elderly and dependents. Underfunding for years key sectors to defend our health and life show their weaknesses. The Polish health care system breaks under the influence of an additional several hundred people requiring hospitalization! All the neglect and consequences of a long-term policy of cuts in the public sector can now lead to a large-scale epidemiological and economic collapse.

12. The package lacks solutions that really support people burdened with caring for children, the elderly or with disabilities who suffer from difficult access to treatment and rehabilitation.

Instead of the "anti-crisis shield" proposed by the government, we demand:

1. The temporary closure of those workplaces whose activities are not necessary during the epidemic, and which, due to the organization of work, pose a threat to public health (warehouses and manufacturing plants that do not produce or supply the necessary goods such as pharmaceuticals or food) . Employees of these establishments should receive 100% of their remuneration for this time on a downtime basis, and public authorities should strictly prevent employers from sending employees to "forced leave".

2. Create a system of social benefits that guarantees everyone's income if they are unable to work and the right to healthcare regardless of the circumstances. The current crisis should be used to remodel the entire social security system in such a way that access to health care is the real right of all citizens, that unemployed people have survivors' income ensuring that the roof over their heads is the universal right of each and every one of us.

3. Establishing and strengthening forms of employee control in workplaces or directing help directly to their appropriate addressees - employees.

4. Increasing the amount of unemployment benefits, extending their payment period and introducing a universal right to receive such an allowance for all persons of working age who are unemployed.

5. Liquidation of junk contracts - mandate contracts, work contracts, self-employment, temporary work and temporary employment (for a limited period) transfer the risk of crises (health, environmental, economic) to the shoulders of working people and only serve to intensify exploitation. The lesson of this epidemic is primarily that the only acceptable form of employment should be a permanent employment contract (preceded by at most one contract for a trial period).

6. Protect pensions and raise the minimum pension. The aim should be to establish a pension system that provides elderly people with a decent amount of benefits enabling them to cover all necessary living costs so that there is no need to 'earn too little pension'.

7. Freezing of rents and fees for housing, suspension of eviction and providing free access to basic utilities for all (electricity, gas, running water, heating). Tens of thousands of people in the crisis of homelessness who are currently in a particularly dangerous situation should receive immediate help.

8. Nationalization of the banking and financial sector and key industries in the event of an epidemic crisis such as health or transport, or subjecting them to other restrictive forms of social control.

9. Granting public health financing priority on the state's expenditure side.

10. Establish a financial support program for the care sector so that it can meet the needs of dependent persons and their guardians.

Under no circumstances should all costs of such increased public expenditure be passed on to employees and employees. Over the past 30 years, employers have intercepted more than half of the wealth generated by the economy in the form of profits - today, when money is needed for unemployment benefits or health care funding, we remind you that money for all expenses related to the crisis can be found in the pockets of bosses, people richest, presidents and bankers. Only dividends paid to shareholders last year by the 13 largest companies listed on the Polish stock exchange amounted to PLN 12.3 billion - this is ten times more than, e.g., the funds planned for this year in the budget of the Guaranteed Employee Benefits Fund, which aims to finance employees' remuneration .

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