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(en) Poland, rozbrat Employee Initiative: IN THIS COUNTRY, IT IS THE WOMAN WHO PERFORMS THE FUNCTION OF SOCIAL SECURITY - INTELLIGENCE

Date Tue, 24 Nov 2020 08:28:38 +0200


"In this country, it is the woman who acts as social security." We publish an interview with carers from nurseries in Poznan about the women's strike. ---- In 2011, you established an Employee Initiative committee associating female employees of nurseries in Poznan financed by the local government. What prompted you to start union activities? ---- Justyna Kurzawska: Nursery carers have not received a raise for 4 years, in addition, the new act extended our working time by half an hour, and our wages were still standing still. As formally independent workers, we wrote a letter to the then president of Poznan, Ryszard Grobelny, regarding pay rises. In response, we read that we will not get raises until 2032. First, we established an informal nursery agreement, the aim of which was to force the government to raise our wages. After several months of joint talks and contacts with city officials, who mainly showed us disrespect, we established an Employee Initiative committee. There were about one hundred nannies at the founding meeting. The initiative was the first union in nurseries in Poland. In addition to low wages, the problem was forcing us to do additional work, such as window cleaning and the lack of basic hygiene measures such as disposable gloves. We started our activity by entering into a collective dispute that ended at the mediation stage.

How are your contacts with the city authorities now?

Justyna: I earn about 2.5 thousand. PLN per month for 160 hours work involving caring for a group of children. Our wages are still outrageously low. Therefore, every year we waste time talking with officials and politicians so that the increases in the budget for the next year are included for us. At work, we are burdened with new responsibilities. The increase in the prices of the means of subsistence reduces the real value of our wages, and we are told every year that they have not reserved any money for us. After holding several meetings, we are usually able to force the authorities to raise a gross increase of PLN 100. The whole process of talks that we have to go through begins in September and ends at the beginning of the next year when the city's budget is adopted. This year, Vice President Solarski told us that we cannot count on any increase. Currently, the authorities explain the lack of wage increases as a raging pandemic. They say that companies are not operating and therefore tax revenues are falling. We do not get any increases, and at the same time the city authorities release entrepreneurs from part of the rents. During a pandemic, entrepreneurs get help from the city authorities, while we are forced to work for pennies. In total, there are about 400 people working in city nurseries and there is never any money for us.

For years, you have also been conducting activities that do not focus directly on company problems.

Agnieszka Zakrzewska-Matuszak: Our first street campaign took place in the winter of 2012. At that time, we blocked the tram tracks in the city center in order to draw public attention to our starvation wages. Before, no one paid any attention to us, as if our work did not exist at all. Currently, after years of activities, we are recognizable in the city.

In the same year, we participated in protests against the social cuts resulting from billions of expenses related to the organization of the Euro 2012 football tournament. I was in the front row of demonstrations against the city authorities, which allowed hundreds of millions to pass with a light hand for the event. Private business was going on, we didn't have enough until the first one, and parents had a problem with getting proper care for their children, because there were no places in nurseries. It has remained so until today. This protest was not just about wages in nurseries, but about the entire welfare sector, such as employees of nursing homes. At the main demonstration, we put up a large representation of babysitters. This, however, did not affect our wages. The previous president of Poznan raised them for us only once in the last year of his term of office before the elections. He never talked to us, possibly sending his deputies, he was openly anti-woman and anti-social. In 2014, Jacek Jaskowiak took the presidency. He pretends to be familiar with women's issues. The difference between the two is that Grobelny did his best to avoid any contact with us, and Jaskowiak's officials talk to us. Jaskowiak is also doing a lot to prevent us from getting raises. When we finally force him to give something, he always tries to keep the raises as low as possible. In total, during the 6 years of his rule, we received about PLN 750 gross in a raise. This shows how much he cares about keeping the wages of women employed by the city authorities low. The data on the amount of wages obtained by local government employees show that we earn almost the least. They say they understand everything

In 2018, we took part in the Social Congress of Women. This meeting was about the meeting of women who are fighting for higher wages and lower rents. We met with union activists who mainly worked in care professions, as well as with tenant activists. There are entire industries where mostly women work, and these are the industries with the lowest wages. So what if in these industries wages of men and women are at the same level, if the entire industry is at the bottom of wages. The problem we are experiencing is not the wage inequality between women and men within one industry, but the wage inequality between industries in the so-called female and male. It is known that no man works in nurseries, but if he does, he will earn as little as a woman. On the other hand, if you look at the work of local government officials, energy, IT specialists, and even construction, most of them work there for men and the wages are much higher than, for example, in the case of caring work performed mainly by women. We don't want to work for free. This meeting was of a more feminist nature, ie it was about improving women's working conditions and improving social security. In this country, it is the woman who performs the function of social security, which should be provided by the state and entrepreneurs. The Social Women's Congress was different from that of the Women's Congress, which is ruled by politicians and businesswomen. The problems of low wages and the lack of social security are not discussed there, because the main faces of this congress earn millions from low-paid women's work and try to hide these economic inequalities, persuading other women that the employee has the same interest as a businesswoman or politician. We believe that these interests are fundamentally contradictory.

Justyna: We also participated in the Black Protest in autumn 2018. There were a lot of women in Poznan, our friend spoke on it from the rostrum. We are also currently participating in the women's strike. We fight for access to abortion because its prohibition restricts women. Politicians already decide too much for us in other spheres of life. It's not their question when and whom we want to give birth to.

I don't think abortion is a good thing, but it is my business whether I do it or not. In my life, I would not give birth to a child with genetic defects. Forcing a woman to give birth to a child after rape is the same pathology as rape. Politicians are breaking all boundaries now, they want to destroy women.

Abortions are performed on a massive scale in Poland only illegally or legally abroad. In both cases, you need a lot of money for it. In practice, those of us who do not have money, mainly women with the worst jobs or those who are financially dependent on their husbands, have limited access to abortion. On the other hand, these richer aborted women have no problem at all. It is often the case that those women who cannot afford an abortion have to borrow to get rid of this problem. I have no Catholic views, but this is a problem of access to social security. No access to free abortion, no prenatal care, no access to contraception. The prohibition of abortion is not a matter of worldview but restricting social security. It is a matter of life. This economic position now determines

You were at demonstrations in Poznan, as well as at a nationwide demonstration in Warsaw. How was it?

Agnieszka: I am delighted. This idiot from Zoliborz was angry with women. A few idiots were fooled, for a while it was hot in Warsaw when they attacked us, but this crowd of women who are fighting for theirs gives hope. I talked to people from all over Poland, they were delighted just like me. People were a little scared, but we went together. I don't understand why some fans and hooligans fall for what the government says and take pride in being useful idiots. In nurseries, most of us are against limiting access to abortion, nurseries are covered with protest posters, and even parents make sure that the posters are not torn off. They get nervous when a poster disappears. Fathers and mothers could not believe that we had the strength and courage to protest in Warsaw. I asked my colleagues to write why they support the current protests. In these statements there is only regret and rage: "Fuck PiS", "Get the fuck out, I'm not an incubator", "We are not breeding cows", "I support protests, because young people have to have a choice", "I don't want a bachelor with a cat to rule me "," I don't want to live in a country where the health service is inefficient "," the church is not ruled. " We ourselves must fight for better working conditions and abortion. There is a total regression in Poland in these matters. In the 1970s, the health service performed an abortion for free. We ourselves must fight for better working conditions and abortion. There is a total regression in Poland in these matters. In the 1970s, the health service performed an abortion for free. We ourselves must fight for better working conditions and abortion. There is a total regression in Poland in these matters. In the 1970s, the health service performed an abortion for free.

Are these, in your opinion, feminist demonstrations?

Justyna: I'm not an avid feminist, but I don't like it when you say that a woman has to cook, clean the house, iron the house. I do not want to be condemned to look after the child. Am I supposed to work so that men would lie down? For me, this initiative is not a feminist union, but a union that supports the struggles of working women.

Agnieszka: There are a few women who, for example, got to the Sejm on the wave of these female protests, they are probably feminists. They never helped us. Why do we need feminists in the Seym when I do not see their actions directly improving the situation of women in workplaces.

https://www.rozbrat.org/publicystyka/walka-klas/4747-w-tym-kraju-to-kobieta-pelni-funkcje-zabezpieczenia-spolecznego-wywiad
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