Thursday 12 June 2008

Stop Price Hikes!

In May 2008, ZSP started a campaign against rising prices, (In Szczecin Workers Initiative is working together on the campaign.) In the last few years, the prices on basic goods and services have risen at a much faster rate than wages. The neoliberal press boast of rising wages, but only a small group of elite are earning significantly more money than before. Most people's salaries don't keep ip with the price of inflation.

One area where people are most greatly hit is in housing. The price of buying or renting a flat has increased tremendously, in some places well over 200% just in the last 3-4 years. The cost of medical care has risen, and not only the cost of prescription drugs; as the state underfunds and shuts down hospitals and the state healthcare system is in ruins, a majority of people now pay twice for health care - they use private health care of pay extra to hospitals for "special services" while still having obligatory state insurance payments taken out of their salaries. The state also pushes more and more of the costs related to education on students and their families.

While the busineses of the world sell their goods in Poland at prices equa; to or sometimes higher than in other countries, they keep wages much lower. The workers at the Cadbury factory which replace the jobs of hundreds of people in England earn only a quarter or a third of what their British counterparts were making, but the price of the chocolate is more or less the same.

The campaign against rising prices is also a campaign for rising wages.

On June 2, members of ZSP joined a picket protesting against increased transport fares in Warsaw. Prior to the price increase, flyers were given our to passengers both in relation to the working conditions of bus drivers and calling for a fare strike. Although nobody really headed the call to mobilize for a strike, there was some passenger resistance for a few days at the beginning of June.

Due to the greed of ZTM (the Municipal Transport Board), they decided they would decrease the commission kiosks would get for selling tickets, So many kiosks decided they wouldn't sell tickets as a protest. Whent he time came for people to buy tickets, there were none in many of the kiosks. The places that had them quickly sold
our and ZTM-run points were overrun by people looking for tickets. Faced with huge crowds, many people just decided to go without tickets. Some people jammed the ticket machines on buses. When controllers came, many people just yelled at them and chased them off.

During the picket, one speaker from ZSP pointed out that although ZTM claimed that they had to raise prices because of rising fuel costs, most buses in Warsaw are run by subcontractors - companies that won public tenders and who receive a fixed rate per kilometer. Thus ZTM pays the same despite costs. Also it was pointed out that some companies take rising costs out of the workers' salaries - for example PKS Grodzisk Mazowiecki which takes money out of wgaes when drivers use "too much" gas.

ZSP handed out leaflets calling for the socialization of public transport to be run by workers and the public in cooperation, on anarchist principles.

On June 6th, members of Wroclaw ZSP held a picket against price increases in that city. The activists have a poster / information campaign going and are criticizing, among other things, how public money is spent. They insist that as we are forced to pay taxes to the state, we should have a say on how public money is spent and that we need to insist that money go to cover basic and urgent social needs, such as health care and education. Other people from anarchist and autonomous groups took part in the picket.

On the day prior to the picket, the secret police paid a visit to the home of the person who registered the event, and also to his neighbours, trying to intimidate the activist. (He doesn't live at that address, so the police used hard talk to warn and scare his parents.) They left a message that our comrade should stop his political activity. It is not clear that this event is related directly to the picket, which by itself shouldn't cause such fear in the organs of oppression.

The web page of the campaign (in Polish only) is here:

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