Sunday 20 December 2009

Strange Method in JWC Campaign

The campaign with immigrant workers from JWC Construction is on hold since there is nobody working there right now. It seems that a couple of years ago they started the groundwork for 4 construction sites which were all completed this summer. Then the crisis hit and not only did people have less money, but also banks didn't want to lend large amounts for mortgages. The result: a lot of flats that haven't been sold yet. During the winter, there is a break with construction and nobody is working with them. It is unclear whether they will start new construction in the spring. The campaign concentrated on that company naturally depends on that.

The campaign started as a result of a strike of Chinese workers in Warsaw over the summer. ZSP helped out in this case. The main idea was to encourage organizing and provide support if needed to the immigrant workers should something go wrong on these construction sites. Most foreign workers in similar situations have trouble knowing what their rights are in Poland and trouble fighting if, for example, they are not paid. Not getting paid is an endemic problem on construction sites. Read more!

Friday 18 December 2009

Attempt to Block City Budget

An attempt to block voting on the City Budget until the city agreed to reassign 100 million zloties to pay for repairs to public housing, which was promised last year, failed. Security was too tight and there were too few people. A couple of members of ZSP and KOL made the awful mistake of chasing after one politician who was avoiding us and wound up in a different wing of the building were we were prevented from leaving and returning to the council. Only a couple of people were left in the council and, although the process was heckled and disturbed, it could not be blocked.
Read more!

Thursday 17 December 2009

New Blogs

ZSP have two IWA oriented blogs: (English) and (Polish). We try in future to make proper page to collect actual informations in different languages as source on information about IWA groups. Also we try to continue translations of most important things. Currently we have no possibility to do translations of everything we like, but at least we can have good information source. Read more!

Wednesday 16 December 2009

Tenant's Bonfires

Tenants are organizing bonfires in the city. These are events when people come out to network. It is done with two aims: to get people networked into the tenants' movement and to draw attention  to the fact that many people have no heat in the winter.

Today's bonfire also became the first public confrontation of residents from Praga with gentrification. When I write "public confrontation" I mean by that a confrontation in which almost 100 residents were protesting and giving public expression to the problem. Plenty of small private incidents have occurred with residents and yuppies, but this was the first time people said out loud that there is a problem that the city financially supports the projects of artists as part of its plans to change the neighbourhood but at the same time doesn't help and even tries to drive out not rich local residents.

The stimulus for this was the planned "unveiling" of an overpriced rubber statue of a deceased neighbourhood drunk across the street from the vacant lot where the bonfire was held. Some artists and politicians showed up but quickly ran away. Neighbourhood residents made this "unveiling" themselves and vented about the social priorities of the city.

An article about this protest and links to photos are here: Read more!

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Antifascist demonstration

13 December members of ZSP Warsaw went to antitotalitarian demonstration in Lodz. This is anniversary of the martial law in Poland and fascists hold anticommunist demonstration. Some antifascists from Lodz organized antitotalitarian demonstration but we perceived the very strong anticommunist tones to include not only state communists, but idea in general. One boy from ZSP wrote the critics and it proved true, some people have the liberal ideas and anticommunism. Not all, but this tendency is.

The group from Warsaw went to Lodz with anticapitalist banner, which even made small group of liberals leave march. But it made discussion from people on the street. Also there were antifascist leaflets for public. ZSP stands against the creeping fascism in society. Read more!

Thursday 10 December 2009

Tenants Protest at the Sejm

December 9, the Tenants' Defense Committee and other tenants' organizations took part in a demonstration in front of the Polish parliament, the Sejm. The main theme of the demo was to protest against the law on tenants, which protects property owners more than tenants, and which allows for wild reprivatization of property and discrimination of tenants from reprivatized houses. The tenants say that the law has got to go and burned it and other unfavourable decisions of the local and national government in protest.

The protest was held on the eve of a court case being brought by a tenant which challenges the constitutionality of the law, in particular pointing to the fact that if the city sells a building, it must provide substitute housing to the tenants of the sold buildings, but has no such obligations towards tenants from houses that are reprivatized.

Read more!

ZSP becomes part of IWA

At Congress in Porto Alegre in first week of December, ZSP became newest member of International Workers' Association.

In Polish, IWA abbreviation is MSP. Read more!

Saturday 28 November 2009

Local Protest

ZSP members took part in organizing a local protest in the Praga district where the authorities want to liquidate overground pedestrian crossings, make more space for cars and force pedestrians to use underground tunnels. Although the city pays a lot of lip service to making Warsaw more "green", or promoting public transport, everything it does is oriented towards cars. The protest was called during a "consultation" with the public, which was a farce. Almost nobody was invited except a few people from NGOs - and only because they demanded the meeting and called other people. Only a couple of local people came, on our invitation, because the city only confirmed the meeting the day before. The city is building a metro station on the main intersection of Praga, currently one of the busiest in the city. While building the metro, they want to totally liquidate pedestrian crossings. Despite the fact that all gathered there were against the plans and that several architects already made alternative proposals, two which were presented at the meeting, it all doesn't matter because the politicians announce that it's "too late" to change their plans, that they consulted with nobody. No competition for the plans were even announced. Members of ZSP condemned the farce of social consultation and called on residents to walk overground anyway and to make a series of direct actions. The first one was organized very quickly and was mostly informational. Residents of Praga took part and Greens. People crossed the streets and blocked traffic, spoke on the corners and handed out leaflets. Some people heard about this for the first time and spontaneously joined the protest. We are calling for a bigger protest in upcoming weeks. Although this one was modest, it sparked a lot of discussion in the papers, on TV and among politicians and urban planners. Read more!

Thursday 26 November 2009

Protest at the City Council

The Tenant's Defense Committee (KOL) and the Warsaw Tenant's Association interrupted the City Council meeting to protest their policies. The city guards asked people to leave but the members of KOL refused because they are protesting against the city budget. They exposed that although the city claimed that money from rent increases in public housing would go to repairing housing, which is really falling apart, they allocated money differently in the draft budget. Only a small portion of this money will go on repairs - the rest goes to bureaucrat's salaries . And of the money allocated for repairs, a good deal is  some sort of gentrification  work to be done at inflated costs. A member of KOL and ZSP planned to make a presentation on this matter at the council - whether permitted or not and KOL calls for the dismissal of anybody who approves the draft budget, as it breaks the obligations set up in the same resolution that raised the rents.

The budget however was not discussed due to tense opposition, not only by the public, but by opposition councilpeople who demanded some breakdowns and some changes before discussion and voting. It will probably be discussed at the next session where there are more protests planned. Read more!

Monday 23 November 2009

Congress ZSP

On November 21-22 the ZSP Congress was held in Szczecin. One of the topics there were the growing incidence of cheating workers at construction sites. In Wroclaw one colleague who worked at a site run by the  company KUK was not paid when the Polish firm closed its office. It is a German firm which set up an office in Poland for a construction project, closed the office without paying people and claim that this was a "different firm" than the German one. Members of ZSP decided to help with this case and a member of ZSP in the construction industry is agitating at his workplace. We decided that we need to make a wider campaign for workers on these sites and carry out agitation and information activities.

Read more!

Saturday 31 October 2009

National Exploitation Stadium

Work conditions are still bad at site of National Stadium. Today was small information event at construction site. During action appeared two locals who worked in Stadium and weren't paid. So they left the work. At same time, we saw Austrian workers at Stadium. They must have good salaries to come to work on site in Poland. So looks like subcontractors hire the local unemployed people without skills for part of work and don't care about paying them, but firm even spends money to import workers for some other jobs there.

Problem is lack of any organization on part of workers and actions of leaving work instead of organizing. ZSP tries to tell the local people not to let this happen, organize instead of becoming victims. There are more plans to talk to the workers as much as possible and gather more information on the issue.

Mainstream media became interested and TV made interviews with cheated workers but firm tries to convince media that everything is under control. State Labour Inspectorate came to Stadium, but they do not care about working conditions of people on contracts, since they are on civil contracts and aren't even "workers". Read more!

Sunday 25 October 2009

Shocking Work Conditions at the National Stadium

In Warsaw, construction work is going on at the site of the future National Stadium. On Oct. 23 it came to light that there are serious labour problems at the stadium.

The consortium building the stadium is like an octopus with many legs. Many different entities, each using a complicated chain of subcontractors. As it turns out, some work is done by people hired by a chain of 6-7 subcontractors. Each subcontractor waits for money to may its subcontractor, who in turn pays another one, etc. etc., until the money finally gets to the workers. Although there are different situations for different workers, some people take 3 months to get any money and some people on the site haven't been paid at all.

Read more!

Hunger Strike at PKP

On Friday Oct. 23, a hunger strike was begun in the PKP group.

(PKP is the Polish state railways, which is divided into many firms which play different functions.)

A representative of ZSP was invited to go in with the group of striking workers from Gliwice who came to Warsaw, to the headquarters of PKP. As it turned out, this was a group of women, which was unusual as railway workers action are usually male-dominated. There was a small discussion about the sense of hunger strikes and whether different action may be more sensible. The strike is continuing in Gliwice, although the woman did not stay in Warsaw over the weekend. They are due back on Monday.

Read more!

Anti-War Action

Nothing really to say about today's anti-war demo. Typical SWP Polish section. Nice pic by Narmi with balloons coming out of our comrade's head.

Campaign Against Militarism was there. There were leaflets. Also ZSP leaflets as well. Read more!

Thursday 22 October 2009

Antimilitarist Action

Yesterday, 21 October was antimilitarist action in Warsaw made by Campaign Against Militarism. Members of ZSP take part in this campaign.

Protest was due to visit of American Vice President Joe Biden in Warsaw to make deal about missiles and military base in Poland. Police tried to block protest and arrest member of ZSP but didn't manage. Members of ZSP are active in antimilitarist protests against war, military bases and NATO.

Full article about action is on CIA. Read more!

Saturday 17 October 2009

Stop Shell!

Some members of ZSP went to a protest organized by Amnesty International at a Shell station in Warsaw. Although AI writes about human rights abuses carried out by Shell on its webpages, the action unfortunately focused only on oil spills and the effects of ecological damage done by Shell in Nigeria. They did at least point out the human consequences of this.

On CIA web portal, we have been publishing different articles on the topic for years, from a more anti-capitalist point of view. We hope that the young people from the more liberal human rights scene will have a look and realize that the problem can not be cleaned up like an oil spill and that more "corporate responsibility" will not solve the problems of poverty. Read more!

Wednesday 14 October 2009

PKP Protest. ZSP Supports Radicals.

On Oct. 13 there was a protest of PKP workers and unions in front of their headquarters in Warsaw. More exactly, the protest was directed at PKP-PLK, one of the PKP Group companies. (See: this article.) PKP-PLK plans to liquidate some regional centers and fire people. Although they officially plan on firing only 500 people, actual job loss will be much greater because they will offer some employees a transfer to another city, knowing that they won't take it. This is often because of the unavailability of cheap housing in other cities. If these people refuse the jobs, it will not be treated as a dismissal or even liquidation of the position. In this situation, those who actually get fired are in a better situation, because at least they will get severance pay.

In the PKP group there is now a small group of radical workers who are critical of the way the unions are acting. Although by objective standards the PKP unions are far from being the worst sell-outs, there were complaints by both rank-and-file workers and unionists over how the situation in PKP Cargo was handled. One of the radical workers explained that although there are many union protests in relation to PKP and even a couple of warning strikes, the unions are reluctant to call for any other action, including a general railway strike. According to him, they are afraid that the company would use a strike as a way to gather public support against the workers. But the radical workers also have the feeling that when it comes down to it, some of the union leaders prefer to keep their cushy jobs and agree with the bosses rather than really fight for the workers.
Read more!

Sunday 11 October 2009

ZSP on the Bad Deal at LOT and the PR of the Unions

Workers at LOT Polish airlines are getting fucked over with restructuring. The unions claim that they have signed a deal which somehow is a small victory for the workers, but this is little more than PR. LOT announced last month that it wanted to reduce the workforce by 900 people. The unions, which organized a dodgy protest, attended by paid union officials and naive foreign guests from Unite and other unions (but with almost no LOT employees),  claimed it would "fight against job cuts" and held negotiations with the Board.

Although the unions announced a victory of sorts, noting that the agreement would lead to just over 400 job losses (440 to be exact), in reality, LOT plans to liquidate from 600-700 jobs over the next six months.

Read more!

Friday 9 October 2009

Antifascism at Edelman's Funeral

Today was the funeral of Marek Edelman. At the funeral was an antifascist placard in English and Polish reading "Make Antisemitism History. Enough Fascism and NeoNazism. No Pasaran 11.11 in Warsaw" with a black flag. The reference was to the fascist march planned for Nov. 11 in Warsaw which will be blocked.

Read more!

Tuesday 6 October 2009

PKP has to pay

Our comrade, fired from job just before retirement age, received a good compensation because he decided to fight. But he doesn't want to go back to the work. In another situation is hundreds of employees of PKP and companies like PKP Cargo, dependent on the PKP. PKP was divided in such a way to move the costs and profits and in the end, workers are fucked as usual.

Unions of PKP didn't make radical enough actions. Passengers are also very angry at practices of PKP but they don't participate to the actions against  PKP or for workers. Now is time to organize for the worker-passenger control! Read more!

Saturday 3 October 2009

Tenants Protest

Members of ZSP took part in the tenants protest in Warsaw during "International Day of Tenant"  2 October as part of Tenant Defence Committee blok. Tenants demand change to housing policy and protest against high costs of rent. ZSP points out how working people don't qualify to get public flats but many are not rich enough to rent flat or to buy. If they can get place to live, it is poor quality or very small. Housing problem divides people more into the classes of people who have and people who don't have. ZSP is against all that makes class divisions worse.

Read more!

Monday 28 September 2009

ZSP supports LOT staff... but not selling out workers

Members of ZSP support the workers of PLL LOT Polish airlines in their struggle to maintain jobs and working conditions. Management of LOT for years tries to bring airline to ruin so that it will be privatized for very small money. In this trick suffer the workers who hear that their company should go bankrupt. Union leaders who try to fight this were sacked against the law. LOT doesn't care that it breaks this law.

ZSP sent protest about sacking union leaders. However soon it turned out that next union leaders want to negotiate the salary cuts of 30% for workers. They say it saves some jobs. Still LOT wants to sack hundreds. The unions now go on their knees - "sack less but cut the salaries".

ZSP members know about this strategy of union but not sure the workers know about it too. 28 September (today) LOT workers were supposed to have protest in front of Ministry of State Treasury. ZSP went. But there were almost no workers from LOT today. Instead anarchosyndicalists found the "demonstration extras" holding banner - but not the workers of LOT. They found the professional union leaders and former union leaders of LOT. And more than 200 unionists, mostly leaders or fired unionists from trains! They support the workers in transport industry.

ZSP asked "where are the workers"? Bureaucrat from OPZZ told that they should be working, not protesting. There were many interesting comments made to comrade by union bureaucrats and there was sharp discussion.

ZSP believes that in this case, unions will make some deal and fuck part of workers. They propose to workers of LOT to protest themselves and self organize struggle without bureaucrats. Read more!

Thursday 24 September 2009

About IMF/WB and Workshop for Activists

This weekend there will be a couple of activities in the Infoshop. There will be a talk about the IMF/WB and a film. We send our solidarity to the comrades in Istanbul. There will also be a workshop for activists. Based on experiences in the student movement, workers' movement and tenants' movement, there is much one can learn about effective organizing.

A note about the Infoshop: the administration has recently threatened to kick us out in relation to the meetings of the Tenants' Defence Committee. We were quite shocked that for years radicals have met openly in the space, but now the city is trying to repress the tenants self-organization. We are sure that this is in relation to the fact that the Committee is, among its other activity, investigating years of corruption in the administration.

We decided that we allow this repression to go unanswered. The administration is a little uneasy and is probably assessing the situation.

The Infoszop has been running for 8.5 years. Read more!

Wednesday 23 September 2009

TV Appearance

Today was a TV appearance of our comrade related to yesterday's action. In Polish. Read more!

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Blockade of Eviction

Today members of ZSP from the Tenants' Defence Committee, along with neighbours and two other tenants' groups, helped to block an eviction of a 62-year old disabled man.

The eviction was to take place in a house were a few months ago, a man who was evicted from a building and sent to live in a box in the boiler room of the basement died.

The building was formerly owned by the Solidarity Trade Union, who sold it to a private firm. The union did not give the tenants the priority option to buy their flats, which is the standard procedure for public housing and flats owned by companies.

The new investment firm that runs the building jacked up the rents. The owners prepared a tiny space in the boiler room to use for people they wanted to kick out. They claim that if the city cannot provide immediate social housing for people they want to evict (and by law they can't just throw they people onto the street), they would stick them in the basement until the city would do something with them.
Read more!

Monday 21 September 2009

New Issue of Wolna Praga Newspaper

There is a new issue of the Wolna Praga (Free Praga) local newspaper. It is available on line on the page of the Tenants' Defence Committee. Due to high demand for the newspaper, which is distributed for free in Warsaw, the print run has been doubled. We probably need to increase the print run 1000% but don't want to take advertisements to fund the paper. We encourage people who can do get the PDF on the internet. Read more!

Saturday 19 September 2009

JW Construction Campaign

ZSP has started a campaign in Warsaw among workers at JWC Construction. After meetings with Chinese workers at JWC, we were able to get contact and are trying to monitor the situation and help people be aware of their rights and to fight for them. We would like to encourage, as much as possible, workers' self-organization at the sites.
Part of the campaign is also aimed at public awareness about working conditions on their building sites. The campaign page is under construction.
Read more!

Protest at the City Council

Members of Warsaw ZSP who are part of the Tenants' Defence Committee visited the Warsaw City Council again Sept. 17. The Tenants have made legal motions to rescind two resolutions made by the City Council. The latest resolution, concerning the maximum income limits to qualify for public housing was made after the Vice President president inaccurate information at the Council just before the vote. This is still under investigation by the Council Ethics Committee. However the Council is dominated by the neoliberals. The President of the City has intervened on behalf of the Vice President, whose dismissal was demanded by tenants. In the meanwhile. part of the council opposed to the neoliberals moved to dismiss the Council Chairwoman but the vote was shot down.
Read more!

Monday 14 September 2009

Protest Sept. 11

trles 169On Sept. 11, a group of people from ZSP Warsaw, Anarchist Solidarity and some non-alligned supporters visited the Serbian Embassy in Warsaw to demand the release of comrades arrested in Belgrade.

On Sept. 7, some people also visited the Embassy and delivered a protest letter. Apparently the presence of even such a modest protest unnerved the Embassy people. When we arrived on the 11th, there was a police van and cops waiting.
Members of ZSP made some speeches and delivered a new statement to the Embassy, but, as the Embassy people were hiding, it only went into their mailbox. The activists harshly criticized the actions of the Serbian government, the way the comrades were arrested, police methods used, the detention of the comrades without charges, etc. etc. There was also a long diatribe against state terrorism and the hypocrisy of the government.

Read more!

Friday 11 September 2009

Statement written by ZSP Sept. 11

The authorities in Belgrade have been holding our five of our comrades for a week now. A sixth person is reportedly arrested as well, although the police, with their typical games, will not confirm this publically. We demand their immediate release.

The repressive nature of the state is evident. All who oppose its power, violence and repression or its legal support of forms of mass exploitation are potential candidates for arrest. It does not matter if you actually break one of the state’s laws designed to protect its own power or not; the state can always find somebody to accuse when they need to show off their power to crush their opponents.

Read more!

Monday 7 September 2009

Free our Comrades!

Today members of ZSP visited the Serbian Embassy and delivered a protest. We are planning a larger picket later in the week. Our comrades from Priama Akcia also visited the Embassy in Bratislava today. More demos are planned throughout the week.

As of writing, over 800 protest emails were sent from our page.


Sunday 6 September 2009

Solidarity with our Comrades from ASI

Tomorrow will be a demo at the Serbian Embassy in Warsaw in solidarity with comrades arrested in Belgrade. More info is on our solidarity page:

You can send protest letters through this page. Read more!

Thursday 3 September 2009

New ZSP Sites

The comrades in Wroclaw are involved in a transit strike campaign for free public transportation. The page of the campaign (which may spread to other cities) is here:

They have also set up a local Wroclaw ZSP page. For now it is only in Polish but hopefully there will be news in English soon.
Read more!

Wednesday 12 August 2009

Tenants Visit Vicepresident

August 12, tenants from the Tenants Defense Committee and from the Warsaw Tenants Association paid an unannounced visit to the office of Vicepresident Andrzej Jakubiak. A large group of people managed to walk right into his office without any interference with their protest. The tenants are angry at Jakubiak because of what he did at the last session of the City Council. Before voting on a new resolution on housing policy, Jakubiak made a speech providing incorrect information. The city changed the maximum amount of money people can earn to qualify for public housing. Although city officials claimed that this amount would be raised (since in fact the minimum wage was raised), it was actually LOWERED. Jakubiak gave incorrect figures which contradicted what was in the resolution right before voting. Nobody on the City Council corrected him. Jakubiak claimed that representatives of the tenants were lying.

After publication of the official stenogram and final copy of the resolution, it is clear that one thing was written in the resolution, and another thing promised at the council meeting.

Jakubiak will most likely claim he "made a mistake" but tenants are not likely to let him get away with this. Members of ZSP involved in the tenants movement were the first to discover the discrepancy and notify the public of the misleading information. The city housing office also gave this incorrect information to the press so it seems as if this was no slip of the tongue by the vicepresident, but a deliberate attempt to hide the fact that the city significantly cut the qualifying income for public housing to less than 80% of the minimum wage, meaning that no person in full-time employment can qualify for public housing. Read more!

Tuesday 11 August 2009

Anarcho-tourists in Zakopane

Some members of ZSP Warsaw took part in the anarcho-tourist trip to Zakopane. Friends and comrades came from different places in Slovakia and Poland for 3-4 days of hiking, integration and fun. Slovakian comrades are active in the Anarchotourists' Collective (KATT), which has been organizing such trips for the past 4 years. This year was the first time in was on this side of the Tatra mountains. Read more!

Monday 3 August 2009

Solidarity with Ssangyong Workers' Struggle

Today the police stepped up their attacks on the workers occupying the Ssangyong factory in Korea. The workers fought back with Molotov cocktails and metal objects from the factory.

We denounce the methods of the state in protecting the interests of capital.

Today there were two pickets in Warsaw in support of the workers' struggle: at the Korean Embassy and a Ssangyong dealership. ZSP sends a message of solidarity to the workers who are continuing their struggle despite brutal repression and supports the call of Priama Akcia to send protest letters and make solidarity actions in this case. Time is of the essence. It looks as if there may only be a very short time left in this struggle, but the class war continues. Read more!

Saturday 25 July 2009

Chinese Workers Going Home

After the picket at JW Construction, we saw off the Chinese workers. They cleared up the camp at the embassy after the work agencies came to some sort of an agreement. They will be leaving for China starting tomorrow and were moved to workers' hotels. They received tickets home and will receive some money for their labour- but it is not clear if they will receive the full amount. The workers wanted to even take that deal because they are tired of staying in Warsaw and are very nervous that they will get nothing. They were particularly upset the last few days since there thunderstorms in the city and really were quite fed up and just wanted to get home.
We asked some of the people what they would do when they got home. Many, if not most, were so fed up with their adventure that they said they would give up on construction work and go back to what they were doing before; for many of them that was farming.

We are hoping that everything will go OK for them and will try to follow up on this case.
Read more!

Leaflet from JW Construction Picket

Given out at the sales office:

Was Your Flat a Labour Camp?

Probably you always thought that slave labour, work without any basic safety equipment, leaving people without any money to live happens only in other far-away countries. Thanks to JW Construction, you can also find such things in Poland.

Do you know how JW Construction maintains record profits during the crisis?

A group of about 50 workers from China who worked building housing estates for JW Construction in Warsaw were not paid for their work. When the workers reminded the bosses of their rights, they were fired and the bosses applied to annul their visas and ordered them to leave Poland. They have been camping out in front of the Chinese Embassy, demanding the pay they are due.

JW Construction washes its hands of such matters, claiming that the work agencies, Polish firm V-Agra and a few Chinese firms like Heyley, are at fault. All of the agents blame each other, all claiming that it was somebody else who did not fulfill their obligations.

Something is not right gere.

In order to make higher profits, JW Construction started to hire temporary workers from China, Uzbekistan, Mongolia and other countries, counting on the fact that they would earn a lot less and that they would not know how to protect their rights. A complicated chain of agents means that the workers don't even know who owes them money. That's an ideal situation for dishonest employers who hope that they can get away with not paying their workers.

But they won't get away with it.

They won't get awat with if it people don't buy flats which were built in violation of safety regulations, if they won't buy from firms which don't care if the workers are paid or not, if they are insured or have proper equipment.

Nobody wants their dream home to be in a former labour camp.

We demand that JW Construction ensure that all workers recent a decent wage and safe working conditions. We demand that all workers that haven't been paid, be paid immediately.

No tolerance for slave labour!

Związek Syndykalistów Polski

Read more!

Picket at JW Construction

ZSP organized a picket at the JW Construction sales office at the Gorczewska Park housing estate. Chinese workers who were not paid and wound up camping in front of the Chinese embassy worked on this, as well as other housing estates built by JW Construction.

Members of several pro-worker groups joined in the picket.

During the picket, several times cars with potential customers drove up but then turned away.

The protestors pointed out that JW has recorded very high profits despite the recession. Since the company has gone public two years ago, it has been using almost exclusively foreign labour hired through employment agencies. Since technically they are not the employers of the workers, they try to avoid responsibility for what goes on at their construction sites: people not getting paid, lack of proper safety equipment, people working without insurance, people working without the proper safety training, people working overtime and without proper breaks, people working without proper food or drink. But we were there to remind them that they are responsible and to ask potential home buyers if they want to live in a former work camp.

ZSP activists promised to return to different sales offices and continue to put pressure on JW.

More photos
Read more!

Thursday 23 July 2009

On the Clashes in Warsaw

On July 21 there were rather serious clashes between a group of traders about to be evicted, their supporters and police and security guards. The events caused a lot of discussion amongst anarchists and leftists about, among other things, the class character of the trader.

Here are some thoughts on the subject and a little background on the situation. Read more!

Sunday 19 July 2009

Chinese Workers Face Deportation from Poland

About 50 Chinese workers are camped out in front of the Chinese Embassy in Warsaw. They did not receive any pay for three months, eventually went on strike and were fired.

The situation of the approx. 50 workers camped out in front of the Chinese Embassy is not unique. There are at least 400 others in a similar situation.

The workers were recruited in Eastern China to work in construction in Warsaw. This group of workers came from three agencies: Fujian Huamin Overseas Employment, Heyly Overseas Employment and an agent called Lin Baotang. They each borrowed money and paid about 1500 dollars to the agents and for airfare. They had 2 year contracts with their Chinese agents and were promised 700 euro plus room and board for 250 hours labour per month.

They were hired out to two shady companies, both with the same owners: Eko-Energia and V-Agra. It is clear that V-Agra was the real employer-user of the workers. The companies did not want to provide the workers with any local contracts.

V-Agra is a subcontracter for several real estate development firms. The workers were taken to different building sites to work on residential housing. From what we were able to establish, this work was not always done in safe conditions. The workers, who were transported to these sites, were not readily able to identify all the places they worked, but with some effort we managed to identify at least 2 housing estates they worked at.

They did not receive any money for 3 months and were living off food supplies they had brought from China. Finally, they went on strike. For that, the company V-Agra fired them.

We obtained a copy of their notice:

"In connection with a violation of work discipline, refusing to carry out work duties and organizing an illegal strike, as well as some workers taking up illegal work in Poland, and in connection with the companies Fujian Huamin Overseas Employment, Helly Overseas Employment and Lin Baotong failure to pay for the costs of the hotel and supply a return ticket to China, we inform you that as of June 18, that is the day that you did not appear at work, all obligations towards the employees of Fujian Huamin Overseas Employment, Helly Overseas Employment and Lin Baotong have ceased.

In connection with the above, we call on all the employees of Fujian Huamin Overseas Employment, Helly Overseas Employment and Lin Baotong to leave Poland by July 12, 2009.

We also inform you that from that day employees of Fujian Huamin Overseas Employment, Helly Overseas Employment and Lin Baotong have no right to lodging in the workers' hotel in Ursus or to stay in Poland.

In the event that you do not leave Poland by the above-mentioned date, we will inform the Border Guards, which will start your deportation procedure.

In all cases of payment, accomodation and return tickets, please contact your employers - that is Fujian Huamin Overseas Employment, Helly Overseas Employment and Lin Baotong - directly.

We inform you that our company has annulled all permission to work in Poland and Polish visas. Staying in Poland and working is illegal and will be punished according to Polish law.

We also inform you that leaving for another EU country will be considered illegally crossing the border and is subject to penalty.

Anna Chilkiewicz,
Chairperson of the Board"

Other Chinese workers who came to work in Warsaw had to pay much more to get here. A few months ago, some of the Chinese workers left Warsaw to try and find employment elsewhere in Poland. A group of workers were sent to the company Eurochin in Katowice were they were also used as slave labour, among other things, to build a Pentacostal church. (The owner of the work agency is a former pastor.) The owner of Eurochin did not pay them and, when they tried to talk to him about it, he called the police and got protection from the workers who were "threatening him". They wound up squatting a house in Myslowice. After an idiot journalist revealed the address of the house, the border police went their and took them into detention for deportation.

There are many Chinese workers now illegally living in Poland, looking for illegal work to survive and eventually get back to China. There they may face problems with debts. Apparently one of the Chinese workers who returned home was imprisoned for his debts.

The group in front of the embassy showed up over 3 weeks ago asking for help - but they got none. So some of them tried to find some work. A couple of days ago, they started to camp out in front of the embassy. They don't have tents and have made makeshift shelters from sticks, garbage bags and plastic.

Camping rough has been difficult; today one person felt faint and had to be hospitalized. The Red Cross came with some supplies, as did ZSP who prepared them some dinner. Some people from the neighbourhood stopped by with provisions.

Members of ZSP, who were able to communicate with the workers and find out some key details about their case, plan to give hell to V-Agra and the companies using these workers, as well as to the authorities who know that these things are happening but do nothing to make sure that these people have proper working conditions and are getting paid.

Read more!

Saturday 18 July 2009

Article on Works Councils

Here is an article on Works Councils by Comrade Akai: Read more!

Friday 17 July 2009

Eviction Stopped

On 15 July the Tenants' Defense Committee showed up to block an eviction. We learned about the situation of the tenants a few days ago. They live in flats owned by the fire department which are going to be renovated. The fire department tried to get rid of all tenants by cutting off heat in the winter and cutting off water. Only three people (in two flats) refused to leave.

The situation was very difficult. One woman is still employed at the fire department and is being mobbed at work where they were trying to force her to move from her 70 meter flat in the center, to a 7 meter "flat" outside Warsaw. What the fire department is doing is TOTALLY ILLEGAL.

After our intervention, the people were allowed back in their apartments. Read more!

Thursday 9 July 2009

Tenants' Protests at City Council and Praga Local Council

Tenants protested today at the City Council, helping totally disrupt the meeting which was protested by other social groups as well. Tenants brought baloons with the names of the council people who voted for rent increases. They flew around the room and some councilmen chased them and tried to take off their names. The meeting resulted in some small gains for the tenants. One of them is that people from reprivatized apartments can go to the front of the waiting lists. Currently they can only go on waiting lists for public housing after they have been evicted, and then they are at the end.

In Praga, local politicians made an emergency session to address tenants. It was made especially due to the activity of the Tenants' Defence Committee, which some members of ZSP participate in. The councilpeople voted on making special reductions on rent for people in the district - but it lost by two votes when the leftists from SLD voted against, telling the tenants, literally, to "fuck off". Read more!

Thursday 2 July 2009

New Bulletin

Issue 10 of the bulletin is available: Read more!

Friday 26 June 2009

Protest at the Iranian Embassy

ZSP took part in the international day in solidarity with repressed unionists in Iran. We made an exhibition about the unionists and displayed it outside the embassy.

Amnesty International also decided to hold a picket at the same time, although more generally against repression - not particularly about the unionists. From the left side there were also members of Workers' Democracy.

For more information about what is going on with unionists in Iran, see: Read more!

Press Conference on Housing Question

June 25, members of the Warsaw Tenants' Association and the Tenant's Defense Committee (in which some members of ZSP take part), held a joint press conference on the Housing question, recent events and planned policy of the City of Warsaw.

Much of the press are ostentatiously boycotting the issue. However we did manage to get some press and radio coverage and get interest for an investigative report.

Among the various points of the conference where the following posulates:

- that there should be civic control over public housing expenditure
- that more resources be allocated to public housing and the income levels be raised to qualify
- that people should be allowed to live in abandoned buildings

There were also many criticisms of various practices and policies. (Perhaps a report should follow.)

The activists stated that they will take more radical action in the near future and will take all measures possible to block evictions or to find vacant housing for those who were evicted. Read more!

Thursday 25 June 2009

Warsaw - Capital of Homelessness 2010

June 24 the Tenants' Defense Committee and the Warsaw Tenants' Association held a demonstration under the City Hall against the city's housing policy. The demo was a response to the city's continued attack on tenants which included a recent rent hike of 200-300% and taking the topic of the city's new housing policy of the agenda of the last city council meeting where members of the two organizations were to speak.

The amount of public housing available in the city is becoming smaller and smaller due to reprivatization of public housing and letting many houses fall into such a state of disrepair that they literally start falling down on the tenants. At the same time, the demand for public housing is growing. The ideologues of the ruling party believe that people should be able to find housing on the private market, but they seem oblivious to the fact that housing costs more than in many European cities and the overwhelming majority of people have neither the creditworthiness to buy a flat, nor enough money to rent one at the exorbitant rates charged by local landlords. As a result of property speculation and gentrification, many are driven out of the city and into the suburbs or nearby towns for lack of any affordable housing options.

At the same time, many politicians have been able to buy up property owned by the city, state or former state-owned enterprises at a fraction of their value.

The City is always trying to raise its prestige by blowing money on lavish events like European Congresses, Euro 2012 or whatever and is also trying to get elected to different titles such as the European City of Culture. The city is trying to gentrify the whole downtown and fill it with ritzy shops and cafes that few can afford and to convince the world that it is a rich city. But we say that Warsaw will probably become the European Capital of Homelessness by next years since evictions are bound to increase and people have nowhere to go.

We think that, in order to prove this point, there should be a homeless city set up outside City Hall. Unfortunately there have been violent thunderstorms in town, so we couldn't even stay one night this time - although at least a couple of symbolic housing structures were set up. We also agreed that the President of the City needs to get a certificate honouring the city as the Capital of Homelessness and we vowed to deliver it to her and make sure it is on the walls of City Hall.

Tomorrow is a press conference of the two organizations on the problem and what we are demanding. Demands of the organizations include stopping reprivatization as long as the city does not have housing available for all people who will be displaced and who are already waiting for housing, cancelling the rent increase and civic control over public housing expenditures.

Some photos are here:
Read more!

Saturday 20 June 2009

Bologna Process Information Events

Members of ZSP went leafleting at various events 19-20 June. June 19 was the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Bologna Declration. The leafleting event was meant to interest people in the Process and get exposed to an alternative point of view. Quite of number of people went to the anti-Bologna pages on the leaflets those days, so we believe that it was rather informative. Unfortunately there isn't much student activism in Warsaw but we did run into people who had read about the conference we did and knew about activities around Poland, so the word is getting out. Read more!

Friday 19 June 2009

Tenants' Protest at City Council

Members of the Tenants' Defense Committee and Warsaw Tenants' Association were to speak at the City Council meeting June 18. The city is about to adopt a new resolution on public housing and there is much to criticize in it as there are many points not beneficial for tenants. Last month tenants protested at the meeting and the Council had promised to deal with these questions during the next session.

Members of ZSP of course know that the promise of a politician means nothing and that the most important thing is creating grassroots movements. If these movements are strong enough, they can possibly win some reforms or concessions on the political level and, although we are generally critical of reformist politics, in the case of such real issues as whether people will be homeless of not, we can support making pressure on the politicians for such reform. But we have no illusions about what the politicians are capable of.

Tenants were not allowed to speak at the City Council this time; the point was taken off the agenda. The politicians had a convenient pretext: some other groups showed up to protest at the City Council and the place turned into something of a circus with a couple of hundred protestors trying to get in. They closed off the entrance to the meeting room, but many of the tenants were in the room. In the end, the Council decided that they would talk about the issue of real estate development in a city park - but not about the housing issue. The tenants were furious. There was about 15 minutes of yelling, protesting, etc.

Tenants decided on making more protests in the upcoming week at a response to this treatment. We proposed that a homeless city be set up in Warsaw in the near future. Read more!

Tuesday 16 June 2009

ZSP Statement on the Educational Strike in Germany and the Bologna Process

ZSP supports the Educational Strike in Germany taking place from June 15-19 and is planning an information action on June 19 on the 10th anniversary of the Signing of the Bologna Declaration. Our support for the struggle against the commercialization of education doesn't mean though that we support the preservation of educational institutions as they exist now.

The Educational Strike in Germany is ony one of many action against changes in the financing of education and other sectors. Protestors are against changes which put profit above people and which restrict access to education, making it even more limited to the already priveleged parts of society. Introducing commerical aspects to education adjusts it to the needs of capital, but not to the needs of students.

People are also protesting against the tendency of the state to reallocate public funds meant for a wide group of society. These changes will also have a negative effect on the working conditions of teachers, doctoral candidates, professors and other scholars and educational workers. Many of them may find themselves on the edge of precarious employment a some will lose their jobs.

We support the struggles of students and teachers who do not support systematic changes which would cause the gap between the rich and poor to increase. The growing barrier betwen them will increase the structural causes of poverty and declining living conditions of many working people, including educational workers.

Many of the changes introduced throughout Europe in the field of education are concentrated arond the vision drawn by the initiators of the Bologna Process. Although we are against the assumptions of this Process, we do not believe that the Process itself is the main cause of the problems. The deeper roots of the problem are connected with capitalism and the role of education as a tool to create elites and mould individuals in accordance with the values of the class society.

We do not agree with some of the social-democratic positions which are often stated by some opponents of the commercialization of education. Among these are that "education should be run by the state" or "the university must be maintained in its current form". As in many other fields of life, it could be that maintaining the current system is better than that future which the neoliberals have prepared for us. That doesn't mean however that we are in favour of supporting the status quo. The university already is a tool for creating elites, hierarchy and conformism. The poor's access to education is often fictional. Educational institutions are a tool of social indoctrination.

For us, education is rather a constant process than an institution. Education does not have to be connected to diplomas, careers and the needs of the labour market. Our vision is education open for all - but really for all, not just for a small group of people who can afford it and for fit into the conformist model of hierarchy and marks. The model of education we want is based above all on cooperation, on sharing knowledge according to libertarian principles.

We call on all proponents of libertarian education to take part in the protests and to use the occasion to open discussion on models of education which do beyond both the neoliberal and social-democratic framework.

Union of Syndicalists (Poland)
June 15, 2009
Read more!

Foucault Seminar

One of the members of ZSP Warsaw was a speaker at the so-called "Foucault Seminar" in Warsaw. The topic was tactics of resistance. The discussion was, as usual, quite interesting. Read more!

Sunday 14 June 2009

Tenants' Page

The tenants' struggle is continuing. You can check out the new web page (In Polish) Read more!

Monday 8 June 2009

Boycott Elections

As usual, we called for a boycott of elections. Leaflets were distributed in Kraków and Warsaw calling for the boycott and explaining the basic idea of anarchism. Stickers were also put up around the city. Many people were quite interested. However this year we didn't make any protest in front of polling stations due to other committments and the fact that we were quite sure that most people wouldn't be voting anyway. And we were right.

(On the banner: Our dreams don't fit in your ballot boxes.) Read more!

Sunday 7 June 2009

Education, Capitalism, Reproduction of Social Class and Student Protests

On June 6 a conference was held in Warsaw entitled "the Bologna Process: Adjusting Education to the Needs to Capital". The conference was quite a rare event in a country where, as participants in the conference noted, widespread commercialization of higher education went on without the social reaction which accompanied such changes in so many countries in Europe and around the world.

There were several reasons for including the theme of the Bologna Process in the title. The first is because many mass student protests around Europe crystalized around this theme since the commericalization of higher education, along with many other reforms being criticized by students, has gone hand in hand with the Bologna Process. The Process is also an integral part of the Lisbon Strategy. With both the Bologna Process and the Lisbon Strategy, the propagandists of the EU and local neoliberal politicians have been conducting an information campaign which presents both these strategies in an overtly positive light, focusing on only certain aspects of these strategies and presenting them with a slant meant to positively incline people towards them and to discourage people from looking deeper into what else these strategies actually entail. The world of the Lisbon Strategy is thus a world where "career breaks" are presented as wonderful opportunities to rest from a job and do something more exciting and rewarding instead of as structural employment. "Flexibilty" and "mobility" are presented as desirable attributes for the modern, well-adapted worker and student in an attempt to obfuscate the real nature of precarity. Thus the desire to more deeply examine what the ideology behind the Bologna Process really entails and to open up a space for critical discussion.

As it turned out, for those who made presentations or lead discussions at the event, all activists from the radical anarchist or radical libertarian communist movement or the libertarian left, points of opposition actually go much deeper than just the Bologna protest.

The first presentation, made by members of ZSP (Union of Syndicalists), analyzed the Bologna Process in a deeper context. Although the Declaration which lays at the foundation of the process does not implicitly include points such as the privatization of educational institutions, the larger ideological realm of the Process assumes wide-scale commericalization and every local implementation of the Process introduces more and more reform motivated by the logic of capitalism and the adjustment of education to the needs of capital and class society. Various points of the process and its implementation were analyzed, in particular the ideas of education management and "effectiveness" as determined by the needs of business, not by the needs of people in general. The needs of business and creating the labour market it most desires have come to replace the idea of the overall good of society; when speaking of society's needs, the ideologues of the system always mean the former.

Next there were presentations by two groups which have been active in universities, protesting, informing, inspiring student activists as well as activism on a broader scale: "Reclaim your Education" from Wroclaw* and OkUPE from Gdansk.

(* This group pointed out that they originally did not give a name to their group, but since they called their website "Reclaim your Education", everybody started callling them that.)

The Reclaim your Education group got together a few months ago and was clearly inspired by mass student protests in Europe. (Many of these protests and statements made by radical students were published on the anarchist portal CIA and were followed with great interest.) They noticed how there was a good level of class consciousness among radical students and in many cases good cooperation between labour and students. Something like this is totally lacking in Poland and the people from Reclaim your Education was eager to put this topic out for discussion and awareness raising in Wroclaw. They found that, besides a few radical students and educational workers, some other activists were eager to join forces, including people from the magazine "Recykling Idei", ZSP and squatters. Even somebody from the local labour party was supportive. The activists held a number of discussions and lectures in Wroclaw and also put up a few information tents, at the university and in the main square of the city. There they were able to talk with people and found a lot of public sympathy. For those more interested, you could get an old copy of "Recyling Idei" devoted to the question of education.

One activist of Reclaim your Education also described how you can introduce topics like paid education and the class divisions that it enhances or new ones it creates as a launching point for more discussion on class and capitalism in general. Participants in the conference also discussed the lack of awareness and passivity amongst students and how to approach people and encourage a radical departure for the dominant ideology.

The presentation by the group OKUPE was also very interesting. OKUPE is an acronym which means "Open Committee to Free Educational Space". This group has been very active on a number of issues related to democratizing and liberating the university and has done also a lot of happenings on topics specific to the Unversity of Gdansk. For example, when the university built a fence around it, the group did some protests, happenings and discussions on the idea of public space, noting, for example, that local residents who had previously used the campus space now were treated as intruders. (Especially since the campus installed security cameras everywhere.) OKUPE thus has been reacting to real situations and events on the campus and putting them into a larger social context. They have also been building up contacts, exchanging experience and coordinating with other radical activists around the world.

Next was a presentation by ZSP and the informal anti-Bologna group in Warsaw about how the Bologna Process is being implemented in different countries and how students are protesting, what challenges they face, what methods these use to organize and what effects they could get. Of particular interest were the radical student postulates and the plenum used in many places. People were also glad to hear about student protests organized just a day or two earlier by anarchists and libertarian comrades from Ukraine.

Finally was the radical philosophical part and discussion, kicked off by a talk made by our comrade from ZSP Szczecin provocatively entitled "Education - Opium of the Intellectuals". Then things started getting a little more radical and some rough arguments with the more leftist audience occurred.

Some of the points brought out were still comfortable for the audience, as they included analysis of the class reproductiion from a safe intellectual position, this safe position being always descriptive rather than prescriptive, and which included references to theorists respected in the intellectual world of the left (ie Bourdieu or Bauman). Of course more radical ideas then were unleashed, questioning instutionalized education in and of itself. In terms of theory, there were quite a few references to people such as Illich or Ferrer and Kropotkin and there was quite hard criticism of the division of labour and the idea that intellectual pursuits, citizenship, leisure and work are separate functions of life, permanently divided in functions and allocated to individuals who, as work, perform one function separately from others. The culture of meritocracy and efficiency was criticized as most often working against the interests of equality and the development of a larger portion of society to more well-rounded individuals, more able to engage in various aspects of social life, to explore and develop their human potential and to live in more harmonious relations with the people around them.

Beside this, there was also some critical reflection on the demands of some student protestors which were categorized as being essentially social democratic in nature. There was some discussion on how to go beyond such social democractic demands. People pointed out that too often some intellectuals approach the issue of the commercialization of education from the point of view that what was before was OK, that the values of the traditional university were a paragon of virtue in comparison to the values of commercialized education with must conform to market demand. The anarchists pointed out that the traditional university was full of hierarchy, class reproduction, bourgeois assumptions, the creation of elites and was not the utopia for intellectuals which some nostalgic intellectuals have painted it to be. It is not for us to try to conserve the value of the existing university, because the institution itself has little value to us.

Besides students and doctoral students, there were high-school students and a couple of professors/teachers at the conference, plus one presenter from ZSP who is none of the above (but just personally decided the system was crap and dropped out years ago and became a critic of institutionalized education).

The participants in the conference thought there were lots of interesting presentations and discussions and there are discussions about repeating the conference in at least the different hometowns of the participants in the fall. Everybody is hoping that such events will raise awareness and start discussions and that maybe the seeds for a future radical student movement will be laid. Some years ago in Poland something like this sprang up amongst high-school students, but it died down and when they went to do university, most of them completely stopped any student activity. Many students feel they exist in a vacuum and some who would otherwise be interested are probably discouraged by the general apathy they see around them. The participants in the conference are hoping to break this apathy.

It was pointed out that June 19 is the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Bologna Declartion and that students in Germany will be protesting and striking that week so it would be a good time to hit the streets and campuses in Poland with another information event.

More information about the initiatives involved in the conference can be found on the following web pages (in Polish):
http://zspwawa/ (English)
Read more!

Friday 5 June 2009

Education, Capitalism

Tomorrow is the conference "Bologna Process: Adjusting education to the needs of Capital" organized by ZSP in Warsaw. Besides the members of ZSP from Warsaw and Szczecin, other groups will take part in the conference such as the "Reclaim your Education Group" from Wroclaw, the "Open Commitee to Liberate Educational Space (OKUPE)" from Gdansk and the Initiative Against Paid Studies from Krakow. It will be biggest and maybe most important event about this topic so far in Poland. As yet, there isn't protest movement against commericalization of studies and only these groups have made some local actions to raise awareness about this subject.

Probably surpise for liberal students who will come will be radical discussion by led by Oskar from ZSP in Szczecin and ideas of speakers from ZSP Warsaw who claim that free education for small group of elites is not enough and criticize the system of education from anarchist position. Read more!

Demonstration in Krakow

On June 4 1989, Poland held elections which marked the end of the era of the People's Republic of Poland. Grand ceremonies were held in many cities. Prime Minister Donald Tusk had wanted to hold a large international event in Gdansk but was afraid of massive (and perhaps violent) demonstrations by shipvard workers who lost their job due to an EU decision. They had demonstration recently in Warsaw and there were violent clashes with the police. Tusk decided instead to hold the event, attended by many foreign heads of state, in Wawel Palace in Krakow. Anarchists went there to show him that he could run, but he can't hide.

Besides the anarchists, a group of tenants showed up. They have been protesting and organizing in Krakow for more than a year now. The night before, they had a picket at the Sheraton hotel where VIP guests were staying. They also picketed on the main square in Krakow before the demo.

Anarchists had slogans like "Without Us Their is No Democracy" and "Enough Compromises - the Class War Continues". They marched though the city to Wawel where there were some speeches. In newspapers given out, anarchists called for a boycott of elections and for direct democracy.

Some photos are on CIA, with links to other photos and videos:

(On our banner: Enough compromises! The Class War Continues. This is a clear reference to the history of 1989, when the leaders of "Solidarity", already devoid of their rank and file masses, sat down with the government at the Round Table and negotiated a pact which basically divided up power between elites. The idea of compromise also relates to the position of the unions compromise away workers' rights in "social partnership" instead of participating in class struggle. Read more!

Monday 1 June 2009

Starbucks Picket

An interesting Starbucks picket was planned yesterday as it was also the last day of one of the last legendary local cafes in Warsaw which was forced out by an incredibly high rent increase. A march was planned down the block from the cafe to Starbucks with a coffin to symbolize the death of the cafe. Unfortunately, a storm broke out.

ZSP has prepared information for the workers of AmRest restaurants (Pizza Hut, KFC, Starbucks and a couple of others) about basic workers rights, safety in fast food restaurants and unions. It has also translated some small films about the situation at Starbucks in the US which were on the Stop Starbucks site. Read more!

Monday 25 May 2009

Conference on Bologna Process

Bologna Process: Adjusting Education to the Needs of Capital
6 June in Warsaw 11:00-19:00
al. Solidarności 62

With members of ZSP, Group "Reclaim your education" from Wroclaw, "Open Committee to Liberate Education Space" from Gdansk, "Initiative Against Paid Studies" from Krakow, and "Informal Anti-Bologna Group" from Warsaw.

Members of ZSP from Warsaw will explain Bologna Process and made presentation about student protests. Oskar from ZSP Szczecin will make critique of role of education in reproduction of class relationships.

This is first critical conference on topic in Poland. Read more!

Surprise at "Cafe Surprise"

20 years ago in a cafe named "Surprise" on Constitution Sq. in Warsaw the Solidarity Campaign Office was located. June 4 marks the 20th anniversary of the first "free" elections in Poland after the fall of the PRL and all around Poland, events are being held to commemorate this date. On Constitution Sq. in Warsaw, the city, together with some organizations, opened up a mock cafe "Surprise" with photographs from this period. They are also gathering material now for an anti-communist "Museum of Communism". Today was the opening celebration which was to be ceremonially opened by the President of Warsaw, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz. ---- Waltz, who is one of the leaders of the ultra-liberal Civic Platform and who is responsible for introducing rent hikes and speeding up reprivatization processes while doing nothing to improve the city's housing policies, has been called "Queen of the Slums" by the Tenants' Defense Committee. There have been a number of protests in front of City Hall, but the "Queen" does not want to meet with tenants. So tenants will have to follow her public appearances and meet her.

Members of the Tenants' Defense Committee and the Warsaw Tenants' Association went to protest at the event. Gronkiewicz-Waltz cancelled her appearance, afraid to be met by the protest.

Members of the tenants groups pointed out that in 1989, one of the postulates of Solidarity was to cut down the time people had to wait to get an apartment. The situation in housing has not improved since then and has only gotten worse, with buildings being sold with tenants, illegal evictions and forcing people to live in substandard and dangerous housing. Besides speaking about this situation, there were some reminders to the guests of the event, which included many prominent Solidarity activists, about what the values of the original Solidarity were and how much Poland has departed from them. People were told that social struggles are still alive, that they didn't go away with the fall of communism, as some would like to think, and they do not belong in a museum. (A reference to the attitude of some former activists.)

The demo being a surprise, it was not legalized and there were a few "discussions" with the police and a few of the museum activists who found protesting to be scandalous. Luckily, this attitude was only held by a few people, mainly former hippies, who still had long hair and proved to be the most uncool pricks going: probably they were only students or artists then, fighting for the right to get more rock concerts, not for the social rights of the workers. Some of the legends of Solidarity on the other hand came and spoke to the tenants.

Some anarchist and left activists from Union of Syndicalists and Left Alternative are active in the two tenants groups and take active part in these demonstrations. Read more!

Sunday 17 May 2009

Starbucks Picket

Today there were two pickets at Starbucks Coffee in Poland - one in Warsaw and one in Wroclaw, the two cities where Starbucks opened their first cafes in Poland last month. May 17 is the 5th anniversary of the founding of the Starbucks workers union, which we spoke about at the pickets.

The pickets were organized by ZSP as solidarity campaigns but also to raise awareness about working conditions in the cafe/restaurant industry and to encourage workers to organize.

Some photos of the picket in Wroclaw can be found here:;cmd=366

(Sorry, no photos from Warsaw this time. A little technical fuck-up.)

Today's picket also included information about what is going on along "Nowy Swiat" (New World) Street in Warsaw where Starbucks is located. Almost all of the well-known cafes along the street have closed down due to astronomical rents, leaving room only for corporate chains, ultra-exclusive places and money laundering fronts. We just found out that the last of the famous cafes on the street. Cafe Bajka which has been there for 53 years and was the last place on the street where you could get a cheap drink and a meal, is being forced to close since their rent was raised to an astronomical 20,000 zloties a month. (It's a small place, so it's really amazingly high rent.) We could see on the street that other cafes and small shops have closed up and in their place we will have Subway and Haagen Daaz. The price of coffee in Starbucks is similar to in the US, despite the fact that average wages are many times higher. This makes brands like these clearly brands for yuppies (and tourists) who are in the elite. Seeing what is going on with the
rapid influx of corporate chain stores along New World St., we renamed it "Brave New World" St.

We have also noticed that Starbucks in Poland has started an extensive greenwashing campaign, which an average consumer might misunderstand and believe the prices are high because they are buying fair trade coffee. Only about 5% of Starbucks coffee is fair trade but they are presenting themselves as the most "ethical" coffee in town. Read more!

Saturday 16 May 2009

Protest at City Council

About 50 tenants protested at the session of the Warsaw City Council. Tenants forced that they could speak to council without waiting. Council members promised to discuss the postulates of tenants at next session.

Action was successful criticism of city housing policy.

Members of KOL - Tenants' Defense Committee - called action, it was supported by Warsaw Tenants' Association.

Members of ZSP Warsaw are active in KOL and were among organizers of this action.
Read more!