Saturday 21 August 2010

First Picket at Azteca Bar

On Aug. 20, ZSP held an action at Azteca Bar in Warsaw. We are demanding an end to the deliberate cheating of vulnerable workers in this cafe.

The problems which led to the conflict are the following:

1. The owner of the bar (Jakub Mazur) uses unpaid trial periods for workers. On top of that, he claims that he provides "training" to the workers and estimates the value of this training at 1300 zloties (326 euro). He gives the workers contracts which state that this money will be deducted from their salaries if they do not work a certain period of time. It is approximately one month's salary - for full-time workers, So if somebody works only one month, s/he will receive nothing.

Most of the workers are students, working part time. Our comrade, a high-school student, was earning about 500 zloties a month (125 euros), so this fake "training" would cost people like that almost three months' salary!

2. Besides this, our comrade was fired and the boss illegally withheld over half of the pay for "damages".

3. The boss tries to get students to agree to work illegally, without any contracts at all.

Azteca Bar is located near a student dormitory. These students, many who are poor kids from other cities struggling to study in Warsaw, are often desperate to find any work in a city with high youth unemployment. Work in Azteca Bar may end up for them as a few weeks or months of unpaid or underpaid labour. We therefore warn them against working in these conditions.

We demand that the bar pay our comrade his due salary, stop the practices mentioned above and raise the wages.

During the action, activists from ZSP blocked the cafe, spoke about the work conditions there and handed out leaflets to passersby. The owner of the cafe called the city guards and police who came but nothing happened. We spoke with the owner, who would not answer questions about his illegal practices and just kept repeating that we should send letters in writing to his bookkeeper and take him to court. We explained that we would come even every day to his cafe if we had to. And we will do exactly that today.

ZSP will also prepare some workshops for the students living in the dormitory on their rights as workers and is preparing a new booklet explaining about deductions and fines at the workplace. It is a common problem and, especially in restaurants and cafes we hear a lot about illegal deductions. We would like people to know what is legal and what is not and give them ideas for action to fight against such practice.