Wednesday 29 April 2009

May Day

And here is the rest of it.The Union of Syndicalists (ZSP) will celebrate May Day this year with the residents of Warsaw's Praga district who have been protesting against rent increases and the reprivatization of public housing for the last few months.

Hyde Park with Tenants / Residents

Prior to the May Day demonstration there will be a series of small Hyde Parks - in backyards, parks and other public places. ZSP calls on residents to resist the rent increases with protests, direct action and a rent strike. Instead of housing run by irresponsible and corrupt bureaucrats, we call on people to organize themselves and repair their decaying homes with their rent money instead.

In the middle of a major European capital city, there are buildings without central heating and hot water and even without water and toilets in each flat. This public housing has been devasted by years of neglect. The city is now raising rents 200-300% and many people cannot afford it. We call on people to organize neighbour associations to deal with these problems at the grassroots level and to fight against the eviction of tenants who cannot pay or who are being forced out of reprivatized housing.

The main Hyde Park will take place at 13:00.

May Day - Enough Anti-Social Policies! Everything under the control of workers and the community!

At 14:00 we will gather outside the last remaining public health care in the neighbourhood, Praski Hospital. It's future is uncertain as the government vows to commercialize everything. Expansion of the hospital was started but the government cut funds, leaving the hospital with debts. Now they want to merge it with another hospital on the other side of Warsaw. People are presented with only two visions of health care (and social services in general): either a corrupt and badly organized public system, or a privatized and commercialized one. We know that neither system is good since they both revolve around the people in control making money - whether this be a commercial firm or government / municipal institutions. We call for the health care system to come under worker and civic control, to be freely accessible for everyone and not to be based on the profit motive.

We solidarize with striking health care workers across the country. As instituions are "commericalizing", more and more workers are forced onto contracts, work is outsourced and public hospital space is rented to private facilities. Fewer and fewer medicines and medical treatments are refundable by the National Health Service and fewer public services are available. Patients bear the brunt of these anti-social policies, but so do workers, especially nurses who are grossly underpaid and whose work is clearly less valued by hospital administrations. In addition, recently some nurses were repressed for taking part in a strike in Lodz. We support the demands of health care workers for improvement of their working conditions. We are also particularly concerned about the Working Time Directive and the amount of hours health care workers are forced to work. Besides these long hours, many are forced to moonlight in order to make ends meet. Forcing medical staff to work 60, 70 or even more hours a week has a direct negative impact on health care services and safety and is a travesty of workers' rights.

123 years after the events around May Day in Chicago, we see that the struggle for the 8-hour working day is still extremely urgent.

After visiting the hospital, we will also stop at the Post Office. There we will talk about the restructuring and liberalization of the market and what that means for the workers. Another workplace which was restructured years ago was PKP, the Polish Railways, which is divided into some dozens of companies at present. There are serious labour disputes not only with railway workers, but with people who repair trains who have lost their contracts with PKP Cargo. We will hear about how corruption in the Railway companies screws the workers.

PKP Cargo, like many other firms, have used the crisis as an excuse to start mass layoffs and to negotiate worse work contracts under the threat of cutting jobs. We will speak about the effects of the crisis and analyse how it is related to capitalist practices and abuse.

We will pass by supermarkets Carrefour and Biedronka. Biedronka is particular will receive our attention. It is very cheap and many poor people shop there, but it is also infanous for violating workers' rights. We will talk about the economies of supermarkets and the high price of low prices.

Finally we will pass by the bazaar where many people are illegally working and say a few things about the exploitation of migrant workers.

The day will end with some relaxation in the beautiful Skaryszewski Park.

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