Thursday 11 February 2010

GreenWay Vegetarian Restaurant Doesn't Pay Workers

ZSP is putting an ultimatum to the owners of GreenWay restaurants: stop exploiting workers or we will start a boycott.

In 2005, there was the first information about problems in the GreenWay restaurant in Łódź. In 2007, information on the subject was published on the portal CIA. Former employees pointed out that people were often hired on unpaid "trial periods". Such unpaid trial periods are illegal, but that doesn't stop sleazy employers from deceiving workers.

As it turned out, a worker in Poznan had similar experiences and spoke of how workers were required to do two free 13-hour shifts. Besides the free labour, in both cases, working conditions were abyssmal.

We campaigned about this issue and had hoped that things would be better. Unfortunately, the pattern is repeating, with new reports from Olsztyn and Wroclaw.

The pattern of exploitation in Wroclaw looks to be extremely disgusting. There are at least 7 confirmed instances of having unpaid trial periods since the beginning of the year. Currently people are investigating the situation. Surely there were more.

The potential workers are told that they have to work a week for free on a trial period. This is against the law - but that apparently doesn't bother the owners because they know that the authorities don't really control this stuff. In some cases, people have had to work even longer. If people asked questions about this, the boss has said "it was training" or even signed some fictious work contract in at least one case.

Besides being forced to work for free, people at Green Way in Wroclaw are often not even able to say what their wages are - because they don't know. There is, unsurprisingly, very quick turnover and when recently visited by ZSP, it was found that the employee behind the counter who had been there the longest was only there a couple of weeks.

Such problems are unfortunately common in Poland but it is particularly dispicable when the employer is trying to project a certain image of the company. The Green Way empire - a large chain of restaurants and other businesses - capitalizes off promoting "fair trade" and "healthy lifestyle" but are fraudsters committing crimes against their employees.

Actions are being planned to force Green Way to give employees decent working conditions. ZSP is also trying to inform workers, especially marginal workers and young people, about their rights at work and to convince people not to agree to such conditions. Some employees and former employees want to confront the bosses about this problem.

At the same time, we condemn the State Labour Inspectorate, who was interviewed about the problem of free trial periods in a newspaper today.

Although the labour inspectors know about the problem and know it is widespread, only one employer was fined in the last two years for the practice.

This is evidence that the Labour Inspectorate is not at all proactive at inspecting for such violations and in fact facilitates the exploitation of young and precarious workers.

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