Saturday, 31 March 2012

March on March 31 - Capitalism is Cannibalism!

On March 31, we marched in Warsaw against various anti-social nightmares created by the capitalist disease. Despite the mixture of rain, hail and snow throughout the day, and despite rumours in the papers that we'd start a riot and occupy key government offices, which scared away some of the people, a few hundred people marched through the city, stopping at various locations to talk about problems such as eviction, reprivatization of buildings, militarism, the high cost of education, poor working conditions, anti-union repression, corruption in the government and the role of the police, etc. etc. etc.
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Sunday, 25 March 2012

Protest against Corruption and Closing of Cinema

On March 24, members of the ZSP and Tenants' Defense Committee took part in a protest against the planned closure of Kino Praha, the only movie theatre in the Praga district of Warsaw. This protest was much more a condemnation of political corruption and speculation than a defense of culture, with the vast majority of banners brought explicitly political in nature.

There is a long story behind the politics of the issue. The cinema is owned by Max-Film, which is a company owned entirely by the Mazovian Voievodship and controlled by the powerful Marshall of the Voievodship and a few friends of the President of Warsaw. The company is infamous for having destroyed many valuable cinemas in Warsaw, some of them irreplaceable cultural institutions, usually to sell to real estate developers with whom the politicians are thought to have business interests. It runs cinemas outside Warsaw as well and is currently trying to auction off cinemas in three cities where there aren't many other cultural offerings.
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Demonstration in Defense of Elba

On March 23 there was a demo in Warsaw in defense of the squat Elba, which is threatened with eviction. Many people marched in defense of the center, which has existed a few years and is the oldest squat in the city.

Members of ZSP and the Tenants Defense Committee came and criticized the policies of the city and government. Speaking at the demo, one of the members of ZSP reminded the people at the demo, most of which are usually involved in cultural but not political activities, that squatting and creating alternative cultural places are good but not enough; we need to be fighting more strongly against the logic of capitalism and the city authorities which treat the city like a source of cash, stripping its public assets, gentrifying and making a war against those without big money and attacking independent social movements. Members of another tenants group, WSL, also reminded people that evictions are happening all around us, not only to the squat.

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Fighting against the Government's Anti-social Policies

Activists from the ZSP and the Tenants' Defence Committee strongly condemned the policies of the government and the city of Warsaw during a press conference dedicated to the increasing number of evictions to be expected in light of the upcoming end of the protection period on March 31.

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Against the Privatization of School Cafeterias and Dismissals of Workers

On March 20 we went to a session of the local council to protest plans to privatize more school cafeterias in Warsaw. The city wants to privatize cafeterias in 66 schools this year, firing 190 kitchen staff. The kitchens would then be run by private companies who would employ people on much worse conditions.

ZSP and ZSP education workers oppose these plans and is organizing amongst the kitchen staff and parents. Besides the problems of the casualization of the kitchen work, we see that the privatization of the cafeterias lead to higher prices and aggravate already existing class differences. Last year, when 33 cafeterias were privatized in Warsaw, the cost of meals rose by at least 30%, making them unaffordable for some parents. The present average cost of meals makes the price of 20 meals equal to about 10% of the minimum wage.

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Protest at Russian Embassy

On March 16 ZSP was planning to hold a demonstration at the Russian Embassy in support of Russian antifascists. Unfortunately earlier that day, police raided a squat in Warsaw, using tear gas, bringing water cannons and the LRAD. Since most comrades were there, we could not hold the demo as planned, but since some comrades showed up, we picketed anyway. We complained about the actions of nationalist, racist and fascist groups in Russia and the actions of the government, both in sometimes supporting this and in attempting to criminalize antifascists.

Solidarity is sent from those who couldn't come but still support the struggle against fascism.
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Support for the Ryanair Don't Care Campaign

March 12-18 was the International Week of Support for the Ryanair Don't Care campaign. ZSP published an article on the internet, postered and handed out leaflets about the situation of workers in Ryanair and about the campaign. Informational actions took place in Warsaw and Poznan on March 14-15.

On the photo is an action at Frederic Chopin Airport in Warsaw.

Since we handed out leaflets in airports and trains, we had leaflets in different languages. An English-language leaflet can be downloaded here.
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Picket at Roche Polska

On March 5, ZSP organized a picket in front of the headquarters of Roche Polska to demand the reinstatement of our comrade Jakub and to denounce the continued use of falsely self-employed and outsourced workers to deny workers employment contracts and various benefits.
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Friday, 2 March 2012

Squat raided, comrades arrested

Nine people, including a few members of ZSP were arrested March 1 when the police raided a squat. The property was one of many city-owned buildings which are left to rot by the city administrators who are helping the gentrifiers. During the winter, irreparable damage often occurs in uninhabited buildings, which are sometimes deliberately left with water so the pipes can freeze and burst, or which have the windows removed, so that damage is caused by the snow. The 9 people, who had nowhere to live, cannot afford the rents in this city and have no hope of receiving munucipal housing (since the city doesn't give much of it, there are huge lines of people who need it, but the city is busy destroying what they have or privatizing it). So they took matters into their own hands and squatted.
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Jola was Murdered one Year Ago

Housing activist Jolanta Brzeska was murdered one year ago, burned alive in the Kabacki Forest. She had been fighting against the landlords, notorious slumlords Mossakowski and Massalski and was the only old tenant left in the building. She was abducted from her apartment and murdered violently. The police have still got "no suspects" and the landlords were never even questioned.

We protested to say that we will not forget this and remind the public that the city is also responsible for providing no solution or help for people in this situation.

To make matters worse, the slumlords had put huge rent on Jola's flat,which she was also fighting against. Now this debt was passed onto her daughter, who is also fighting in court against these bloodsuckers. These people, with no scruples or human decency, apparently do not give a fuck that one member of the family is already dead and that the other cannot possibly pay this debt, the result of these people's insatiable greed and desire to squeeze everything out of people with their real estate speculation.
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Protest of Polfa workers against Privatization

On March 1, about 500 workers of Polfa decided to protest and block the streets near the headquarters of Polfa. The protest related to the privatization of the pharmaceutical company. The 1200 workers of Polfa were promised a guaranteed social packet but it is clear that the State Treasury and Polfa are not interested in obliging the buyer. The workers say that if they are not given guarantees, they do not agree to the privatization.

We visited the protest with leaflets and hope that the workers will not cave in or agree to crap deals made by their representatives or the state.
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Protest against Repression and Eviction

On March 1 we held a protest in front of the court connected to the harrassment of our friends from the Tenants Defense Committee by the local authorities. Following many protests by the tenants, the authorities decided to condemn the flat of some of the most active people - not the whole building, but just the flat. After some manipulations with proposed replacement housing, the city decided to start eviction proceedings against the family of 4 - despite the fact that they never were late in paying their rent and invested a lot of money to repair the flat and make it liveable, while the city totally neglected their responsibilities as landlords. It is clear that this attempted eviction is intentional, all the more so since one of the politicians made threats against our friend.

To make matters worse, the city's lawyer asked the judge to hold the case in secret, not allowing any witnesses from the public. We decided that we would protest and not tolerate this type of abuse. Then, one hour before the case was to begin, at 9AM, there was a phone call from the court that the case was postponed. So we see what they are trying to do. Since we were informed to late to notify most people, we went anyway and held the protest in front of the court. We found that most employees of the court knew about this case and when we started the protest, all the windows opened and people stopped working to listen. Other people who were coming to the court offered their support and best wishes that we won't let the bastards wear us down. And we won't!
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Unions Stage Farce Protest against Pension Reforms

In general, we do not support the way the mainstream unions are organized or how they negotiate away workers' rights to the government. Recently, unions announced that "they would fight" against government plans to raise the retirement age to 67.

Here we have somewhat of a common cause, so we went to the protest at the Parliament while the government was discussing it and an alternative proposal, a "civil draft bill" submitted by one of the mainstream unions which would allow people to retire after 35 or 40 years of work.

Quite unfortunately, we found that the mainstream unions are still in their usual modus operandi. Instead of holding strikes or mass protests of rank and file workers, the 3 main union centrals in Poland - with a combined membership of well over 2 million people - mobilized their professional trade union reps and functionaries for a 300 person demo. This means that the strongest union organizations in the country put fewer people in the street than we will on March 31 and May 1, against one of the most important changes for workers. We can only guess the reasons for this, but one thing is clear: this is not a real fight.
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Against Labor Reform in Spain

On March 1, together with some Spanish students and expats, we protested against the labor reforms in Spain at the Spanish Embassy.

Below is a press release we sent about the action and the protest letter sent by the Spanish to the Ambassador.We also referred to a similar action held in Wroclaw the day before, but focusing on the police violence against students in Valencia.


General Strike against the Labor Reform!

The ZSP-IWA supports the struggle agains the labor reform and condemns police brutality

On February 29 and March 1 there will be two actions in Poland related to the situation in Spain. On February 29 we will protest in Wroclaw against police brutality towards student protests in Valencia, against the cuts in education and the attack against workers in Spain. On March 1, we are protesting together with students and other Spanish people against the labor reform in front of the Spanish Embassy.

The ZSP considers the labor reforms in Spain to be part of a global attack against the rights and material conditions of the working class and that only a determined, international struggle can stop the bloodsuckers who are exploiting us. Some symbolic protests are not enough. We have to organize ourselves in militant unions, with no interest in maintaining the system, without compromise.

We support the stance of our comrades from the CNT-AIT who are mobilizing around Spain against the labor reform, towards an indefinite general strike.

Not one step back!
Solidarity with those who are fighting!
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