Uniontex, clothing factory in Lodz, Poland is on strike since the beginning of June. Crew of 500 person occupies factory buildings to prevent the owner from dismantling the machines and emptying the stocks. Board of directors threaten them with lockout.
Uniontex, private cotton factory is a part of polish Fasty Holding, consisting of Uniontex (Lodz), Fasty (Bialystok) and Andropol (Andrychow). Since the beginning of the year it't facing serious financial troubles, caused by the icreasing costs of production and demand breakdown.
From March workers of the factory haven't got the wages. When company owners started the bankruptcy procedure, Uniontex crew went on strike. They demand immediate payment of overdue wages and transformation into the employmee-owned partnership, or at least suspending of the bankruptcy till the end of septenber (new bankruptcy law come in force from the 1stof October - it enforces further production and employment warranty after the company goes bankrupt). Due to the stikers, financial troubles of Uniontex is caused by the policy of holding owners, that by the unfavourable for the factory contract transfered the profits from Uniontex to the companies owned by the members of its top managenent. They informend state prosecutor abuot this transactions and demand carrying out a prosecution.
At this moment, 500 person crew of the factory occupies factory buildings and warehouses to prevent the stocks, worth of 2000000 PLN ( about 500000$) and the factory machines from being dismantled and carried away. Both trade unions, present in Uniontex, NSZZ "Solidarnosc" and OPZZ (National Trade Unions Federation), support the strike - its delegates took part in the Strike Comittee.
Management policy is hard to define, once they threaten strikers with the immediate lockout, once they seemed to be more flexible and ready for concessions. Negotiations are going on but till now it hasn't lead to any kind of agreement.
Strike is legal under the Polish strike law, at this time there's no risk of police or security agency strike on the occupied factory.
Although two main Polish trade unions are involved in strike, strikers can't expect any support from them. Local trade union structures remains passive.
From two weeks Worker's Initiative of Lodz stays in contact with strikers, helping them in protest. Due to our possibilities, we support them with food and soft drinks, this friday common delegation on WI and Strike Comittee is going to Poznan to take part in nationwide workers' demonstration and present the protest to the wider public. We planned solidarity demostration at the Fasty Holding main office in Bialystok at the beginning of July. We try to get a support for the strike from the workers of other factories in Poland.
UPDATE JUNE 24TH:
Negociacions with factory owners goes on. They offer emplyment during next two months for all the crew, for 200PLN (about 50$!!!) per month, and further contracts for 250 of the crew in holding's factory in Andrychow, 400 km from Lodz. They consider the strike as illegal and demand its immediate ending - otherwise they will prepare petition to the court against the members of the Strike Comittee and, after favourable ruling layoff all the strikers for "seriuos breaking of the terms of employment". If they do that, layoff crew will loose all the social benefits for unemployed. Strike Comittee reject this proposals and demands, and decided to cotinue a strike.