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.

Semantic and legal definitions allow everyone to dance around the truth. The truth is that the workforce will be reduced by 600-700 people (with perhaps more to follow) AND that ONLY 440 people will be fired. That is because if you do not renew somebody's contract, you aren't firing them. Technically, they are not even employees and, under Polish law, they are not "protected" by the union.

Not that unions such as those in LOT effectively protect anybody. They are there to barter deals, be "social partners" and make sure that the workers are under control. They are there to take the lead in "fighting" for workers' rights and ... without disruption to business as usual. When asked why workers from LOT were not there at the "LOT workers' protest", we were told they were supposed to "work, not protest". In the end, the unions pretend that they won something, because the company will fire a little less than intended.

LOT workers can defend themselves better than that. But not if passivity amongst workers is the norm. Not if power is handed over to "social partners" who don't want to interrupt service and who try to negotiate bigger pay cuts as an alternative to dismissals. Not if the workers in the industry fail to be decisive and coordinate themselves.

Transport workers throughout Poland are in dire straits and could act together. It's high time to organize and take decisive measures.

For self-organized workers resistance!

1 comment:

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