Tuesday 26 April 2011

Days of Social Rage

May 27-28, Warsaw, Poland

We are facing an attack on all fronts and our struggle must take on new strength. The arrogance of the state and the impunity with which they attack us is growing. It is a massive offensive against workers and the unemployed, tenants, students, patients, immigrants and those who find themselves in vulnerable positions or on the margins of society. Reforms that they have wanted to implement for years are awaiting us. The government has been testing the waters, seeing how far they can go with us and how much they can get away with. 
There is a whole new generation of people who never know (and may never have) a permanent work contract and in this way have been denied paid vacations and sick leave. There is a new generation who may never get to enjoy their retirement. Not that those currently retired enjoy anything. With miserly pensions and poor health care, they have to deal with rising prices and rents which are much higher than what they can pay. The local authorities are just waiting for tens of thousands of elderly public housing residents to wind up in the cemetery so they can earn more money off the vacated apartments. All of this is done so that a tiny elite can make more and more money at the expense of society.

The gap between the rich and the poor has never been so great. According to statistics published by the OECD in 2008, Poland was on the top of the list of income inequality of all OECD countries. The middle class is going bankrupt. Those people are not able to pay off their loans and increased fees for land and may soon find themselves amongst the ranks of the working poor. 

In spite of what society wants, the government carries out the recommendations of the IMF. Poland should limit indexation of social security benefits and pensions, „rationalize” social services, increase „flexibility”, spend more on the military, increase the tax burden on farmers and the self-employed (which is mostly fictitious self-employed, forced into this condition by their bosses). Education and health care is becoming more and more commercialized and inaccessible.

It is time to fight back!

Lets fight for:

Better working conditions

At the beginning of the year, unemployment was over 13%, despite the fact that more and more Poles are forced to work abroad. This figure does not include either the long-term unemployed or the underemployed – the armies of workers who have part-time, seasonable or mini-jobs. With the pretext of giving workers „freedom of choice” the government does more and more to allow bosses to use trash contracts, temporary work and use outsourcing. At the same time, it reforms the Act on the State Labour Inspectorate to soften and remove (the already low) fines for bosses who violate workers' rights and does little to ensure people can protect themselves against labour abuse. The result is that many people are forced to work underpaid overtime, or work in dangerous conditions, just to get by. Women, immigrants and the poor are particularly abused and discriminated against.
We are told left and right that the market dictates prices, so prices for all we need are always increasing (even beyond the levels in wealthier countries). But at the same time, we are told that the price of our labour cannot increase, because bosses don't want expensive workers. The more the bosses are able to call the shots, the more our rights as workers are eroded.

For tenants' rights, against real estate speculation and gentrification

One area where policies are extremely anti-social is public housing. In 2009, rents were raised 200-300% in Warsaw. People living in housing which becomes privatized may also see dramatic rent increases. Now many people can no longer afford their rent. If this wasn't bad enough, the government is introducing a bill which would allow the city to raise rents even higher.

At the same time that they are liquidating the public housing supply through privatization, condemning buildings and so on, they are doing way to little to provide new housing, exposing many to the real threat of homelessness.

The existing rights of tenants are being constantly violated as the administrators now that nothing will happen to them.

Better health care

The efforts of the government to turn health care into a profit-making industry have hit the working poor the hardest. They are the ones who cannot afford private clinics and are forced to wait for medical services, pay their last savings for adequate care, or do without. Money is diverted from the health care budget, just like it is diverted from all social needs. Health care workers bear the brunt of these cuts as well, and are forced to work in horrible conditions. This also has a negative effect on service to patients.

Against rising prices

Rent increases are not the only thing that hit workers, pensioners and the unemployed. There are increased prices for everything: food, health care, education. Taxes are increasing, as are the costs of social insurance, put on the workers. The city of Warsaw now plans to raise the price of transport 100%, which hits the working poor the most.

The government, in order to pay for the money it spends (for the benefit of bureaucrats and business people), just finds more and more ways to squeeze money from the working poor and middle class.

For free education for all

The commercialization of education has made it both more and more inaccessible to many and more and more dependent on the desires of capital. Education reforms are meant to make universities profitable, meeting the demands of the corporations which will dictate what they want people to study. More and more students are forced to pay and the poorer ones have to slave at shit jobs to put themselves through school, often being cheated by bosses who take advantage of their desperate situation. Or they are encouraged to take loans, so they can start out their adult lives as debtors.
In the end, some part of these students just give up and leave Poland, discouraged by their lack of options and the hardship they will face.

For an environmentally safe Poland

As all is treated as a profit-making resource, we face an increasing encroachment on the natural environment and new ecological threats. Among them are the government plans to build nuclear power plants in Poland, something that most people are against, despite years of the nuclear lobby working to convince people. The government has already spent millions „educating” the people about nuclear energy while doing little to improve the ecological conditions of the country.

Against militarism

Again, against the will of the overwhelming majority of society, the government spent a fortune on weapons and campaigns in Afganistan and Iraq. This is money that goes for killing, and there have been many scandals about the participation of Polish forces in killing civilians. In the meanwhile, the government cuts back on many social needs.

This is just the tip of the iceberg!

People – enough is enough! It is time to act before you wake up and find you have no work, no place to live, no health care and nothing to live on. Instead of accepting this fate, let's get rid of the people responsible for this mess!

And no, changing one army of bureaucrats, bosses and politicians for another will not help a thing! It's the system that has to change! The system of government and capital!

Let's go on the offensive and fight back!

Let's take control of things ourselves, in the best interests of working people, controlled directly by working people, not for profits or for power but for a decent life for everyone!


DAYS OF SOCIAL RAGE – 27-28 of May, in Warsaw

27 May – events connected with the Vishegrad Summit and visit of the US President
28 May – main demonstration, 12:00 in Warsaw on pl. Trzech Krzyży