A new wave of workers' strikes in Poland has appeared after 22 years since Polish August happened and after 13 years of the social and political changes beginning in 1989. In 2001 the social conflicts ran deeper. It is estimated that only in Warsaw about 183 strikes took place - what was the biggest abundance of social dissatisfaction since 1990. In 2002 number of open, especially workers' frictions in Poland has increased. Moreover, the employees have begun to organise the protests up and down the country.
Despite the fact that nowadays manifestations aren't as popular and as crowded as those 10 or 20 years ago, a lot of observers agree that they are the biggest wave of social discontent since the beginning of 1990. It contains major trade of Polish marketplace like shipyard and car industry, mining industry, metallurgy and medical care as well.
The great majority of workers' protests relate to five fundamental questions. People stood against: dismissals, liquidations of the work places, not paying instalments for executed work, trying to introduce disadvantageous changes into the Labour Code, taking away trade privileges, not observing the work rules and the trade union's legislation by employers. It wasn't an exception when a couple of those factors played the crucial role.
Developing radical attitude to protest and consolidation tendency in the workers' movement were typical features of demonstrations happened in 2002. A lot of protesting employees from different plants supported each other: they established inter-firm and inter-trade committees that tried to co-ordinate the protesting action in plants, in trade, in the particular region or in the whole country.
It goes without saying that the recent wave of strikes is a result of going on economical crisis but first of all it shows how strong the Polish society become indignant with present system of power in general. In nowadays "slump" the former social contradictions ignored up to now by the government, have appeared again. As we see even not the biggest depression (how far is to Argentina?) clearly shows that "the king is naked". That's means the economical system just doesn't work: people aren't paid for their work for months, a lot of employees are threatened with losing their job, unemployment is increasing, the salaries are lowering, social privileges are cut off. The depression can't be deny so the government, in which people don't believe anymore and they stopped to listen to, can only recall to the institutional violence (what seems to be typical to the authorities in the state of emergency).
We want to display a calendar of the workers' protests in Poland in 2002 below. It's not a complete list for sure, but probably it's enough to describe background, range and character of nowadays protests.
Ruda Śląska, 13.01.2002.
A protest of miners in the "Halemba" Mine. The union trade's members carried out hunger- strike in order to receive unpaid salaries. (www.lewica.pl)
A strike of the employees from the zinc department in the "Szopienice" Foundry. According to the strikers an announcement about dismissing 540 workers breached the deal among an investor (Impexmetal) and the trade unions signed in 2000. (www.lewica.pl)
About 2 thousand workers of the Szczecin shipyard broke off the work and protested under the seat of the company's management. They demanded paying off outstanding salaries. (PAP)
About 1,5 thousand of workers from the Szczecin shipyard punctually at 10 a.m. left their work place and marched under the seat of the management with social and instalments' demands. (PAP)
More than 100 people participated in common picket of teachers and workers from the "Szopienice" Foundry under the city-council building in Katowice against the policy of dismissals. (own source of information)
Katowice, luty 2002.
Protesting actions of the "Szopienice" Foundry's workers against liquidation of the zinc department and dismissal of 540 people. (own source of information)
Several tens of former employees of Daewoo Motor Poland in Lublinie came under the city-council building in order to receive unpaid salaries. (own source of information)
More than ten people protested against breaching workers' rights and freedom of trade unions in the "Marriott" hotel in Warsaw.
About 600 teachers from NSZZ "Solidarność" protested under the Sejm (unicameral legislature of Poland) against the educational policy and budgetary cuts in education (PAP)
One more time, several tens of former employees of Daewoo Motor Poland in Lublinie came under the city-council building demanding their unpaid salaries. (PAP)
Łaziska Górne, 13.02.2002.
About 150 founders from "Laziska" foundry set up the roadblocks on the state rout from Katowice to Wisła. (own source of information)
About 2 thousand teachers from ZNP (Polish Union of Teachers) protested under Sejm against budget cuts and against shifting increases for teachers for the next year (PAP)
About 1000 workers of Szczecin Shipyard began the occupation protest in order to show their solidarity with 30 dismissed people. 13 social postulate were settled while the management of the shipyard claimed that the strike was illegal. The protest finished with debacle after a week- the organizeres were dismissed. (PAP)
Two hours' strike of the drivers from PKM took place in Sosnowiec (www.lewica.pl)
The dockyard workers from Szczecin are on obligatory leaves for one month. On 4th of April they were protesting in front of the management seat, demanding payment of their back pays. They also required to set the production in motion.(PAP)
Almost 200 unionists from NSZZ "Solidarność" have picketed the Provincial Office of Wielkopolska, they were protesting against changes in the labour code.
The demonstration of all - Polish Trade Union of Midwifes and Nurses in front of the Parliament.(PAP)
"Solidarnosc'80" ("Solidarity'80")Trade Union organised the occupied protest in "Kama Foods" company in Brzeg. Strikers demanded unpaid salaries. (www.lewica.pl)
Siemianowice Śl., 14.04.2002.
Workers of the "Jednosc" Foundry protested under the seat of the management; the strikers demanded their unpaid salaries. (own source of information)
Members of all trade unions from region of Łódź and unemployed have manifested in front of parliamentary office of Leszek Miller in Łódź, they were protesting against changes in the labour code.
Almost 500 unionists from "Solidarność" ("Solidarity") from all over the region were protesting against planned changes in the labour code.
Several hundred of drivers and carriers were protesting in the centre of Toruń against too high local taxes. Taxi- and truck - drivers were driving around the streets and tooting.(PAP)
Unionists from Cables Factory in Ożarów were blockading the firm's gates by trucks. They announced that their protest will be last till the management which want to suppress the factory, will defer dismissal. Finally the staff addressed a postulate about taking possession of the factory. (PAP)
Kraków-Nowa Huta, 24.04.2002.
About 1500 founders took part in manifestation in front of the main gate of Tadeusz Sendzimir's Foundry. (www.lewica.pl)
Demonstration of 600 workers' from the "Jednosc" foundry under the building belonging to the head of the company. The strikers demanded due wages. Several tens of workers occupied the management's building. (own source of information)
Demonstration of tens thousands of people have walked through the streets of Warsaw. The unionists from "Solidarność" from all over the country came to the capital city to protest against the amendments of the labour code
In Nysa Motor has started a stay - in strike. Striking unionists are demanding taking up a dialogue with the government. They wrote: " In result of Daweoo FSO's politic Nysa Motor is now in situation of total bankruptcy..." The factory is now under control of protesting staff and special committee. Workers are protesting because since December they don't get their pays and the management want to declare an insolvent. In Nysa there's a social committee that helps protesting people - it rise funds and food. (www.poprostu.pl)
The demonstration of workers of the Szczecin Dockyard walked through the streets. They were demanding payment of back pays and setting the production in motion. In the demonstration took part about 1500 - 2000 people.
"Miller and Hausner go away!!!" were scanning the unionists from Solidarity who gather in front of Provincial Office in Katowice. On the manifestation came almost 1000 people. (www.lewica.pl)
People protesting for ten days against the clearance of company were demonstrating on the streets of the city. ("Nowiny Nyskie")
Szczecin, 15 and 16.05 2002.
Another demonstration of dockyard workers.
Several hundred employees of the "Baildon" foundry protested in the first anniversary of shutting down their plant. (own source of information)
In front of the gate of HCP Factory in Poznań Workers Initiative / Anarchist Federation section Poznan, Solidarity'80 and Konfederacja Pracy organised a picket. The demonstration was an act of solidarity with striking people from Szczecin, Ożarów and Nysa. They were demanding to stop liquidation of work places and resignation of inefficient government. In action took part about 50 person. Next actions in Poznań were announced.
Łaziska Górne, 23.05.2002.
Over 500 workers from Łaziska Smelting Works were protesting in defence of their work places. "We won't let to close the firm down so easy and fired couple thousand of people. If there's no other solution we will protest in Katowice and than in Warsaw " - said Z. Wożnica one of the organiser of protest. 750 workers can loose their job at the end of July.(www.poprostu.pl)
Inhabitants of Gluchalazy supported with warm applause about 900 workers from medical cares' institute protested against shutting down their plant (Nowiny Nyskie)
In front of a building of Bison - Bial Factory were protesting several hundreds of people. They are preparing a citation to the court regarding to their back pays. The staff don't get their salaries for six months. On April the management send to the court an application of firm's bankruptcy, but it was turned down. Two weeks ago workers appealed to the government and the President of RP for help. (RMF.FM)
The Economic Court In Opole announced a bankruptcy of Nysa Motors. Unionists were scanning "Shame!" during the trial. The staff is not going to let to division and sell of property. In Nysa for one week lasts a hunger - strike. (RMF.FM)
Skarżysko Kamienna, 03.06.2002.
During this month Zakłady Metalowe Mesko S.A. will dismiss 1 of its staff. There are first protests. Workers say that that on the dismissal list are bread-winners - sometimes they maintain even several children. Also specialists, necessary for firm's existence are being fired. The management don't want to fired people without families and with shorter practise. Driven to despair people say that in most of the cases about dismissal decide connections. (www.wp.pl)
Łaziska Górne 03 and 04.06.2002.
Protesting workers of Łaziska Smelting Works blockaded route No. 81. Next day almost 500 of workers manifested in front of Provincial Office in Katowice. They were demanding of setting in solutions that will prevent bankruptcy of the firm.
"in first week of July we're planning to dismiss about 500 people" - informed the management of Andoria S.A. in letter addressed to trade unions and the Labour Office. Now the trade unions have 45 days on reaction. The firm since long time has very serious problems. Workers get their salaries in rates per 200 zl, factory lost its economic liquidity and the debts came up to 90. 000.000 zl . Protest is lasting for one year. Unions plans to intensify actions, as say the unionists - the example of Szczecin Dockyard has prove, that only radical actions can be successful. (www.lewica.pl)
Workers of "Bukowa Gora" Mine in Laczna blocked the rout from Kielce to Warsaw. The participants of demonstration crossed the rout for about 2 hours. After the police intervention they moved into pavement. The protest showed their solidarity with threatened with shutting down the "Laziska" foundry (PAP)
For another time unionists from NSZZ Solidarity'80 were protesting in front of Kama Foods Factory. To workers demanding payment of their back pays came out representatives of the management. One month ago lasting 15 days stay - in strike and hunger strike organised by Solidarity'80 has ended by signature of document in which the management undertake to pay in May the back pays. (workers don't get their salaries for seven months!)Unionists are afraid that the management talking about solution of crisis in the company, in fact goes to the insolvency.(PAP)
Protest of nurses from the hospital in Limanow against dismissals (www.lewica.pl)