Friday 6 April 2012

Solidarity with the Workers from Huta Batory!

Today we went to the offices of Alchemia to confront the management of that firm who were threatening to close down the Huta Batory ironworks in Chorzow because the workers went on strike.  We found that the office was closed for the day: not sure if they were scared of us or all meeting to decide to shut down the ironworks. Which they announced later in the day. So we will be back. Below is the story of a wildcat strike and what capitalist greed can lead to.

If you are pissed after reading this, send a nasty email to the company!

On Monday, April 2, about 350-400 ironworkers from the Huta Batory ironworks in Chorzow started a wildcat strike. The reason for this was that the company had started firing people. At the same time, they were employing people through temp agencies. These ironworkers were earning about 1400 net, (350 euros), about half of what the permanent workers were making. The management of the ironworks announced that the company had decided to replace staff with temporary agency workers and that the goal would be to have 80% agency workers. Last week alone the company dismissed 50 people.
The workers, who were tired of the union negotiations, went on a wildcat occupation strike and refused to let the trucks with the production (metal pipes) leave the factory. The company decided to hire security squadrons from Bydgoszcz to come and break the strike. Hundreds, some say thousands, of people came out to defend the strikers. Among them were our comrades from Silesia, from ZSP and FA. When the buses of security arrived and saw the agressive crowd, they turned around and went back to Bydgoszcz.

The representatives of Alchemia, the company which controls the ironworks, started to threaten the strikers. On April 6, the Warsaw ZSP went to confront Alchemia, which has its seat in Warsaw, but found that the office was closed. (It still made an informational action.) Later in the day (Friday afternoon, at the end of the business day), the company announced that it would close the ironworks and that the workers would lose their jobs. They announced that 110 workers who were considered by them to be the main "troublemakers" would be fired immediately for disciplinary reasons.

The company Alchemia owns a number of businesses, including several ironworks. It is owed by one of the richest families in Poland, Roman Karkosik and his wife Grazyna. (Roman Karkosik is worth 1.8 billion USD.) Alchemia is also looking to make a fortune on pipes for shale gas extraction. Its webpage has a slogan "we smelt profits". At it brags about all the money it makes: on February 20 it published a statement announcing that last year it made an eight-fold increase in profit.

Eightfold increase in profit
Alchemia earned PLN 118.4 million in 2011

The revenues of Alchemia Capital Group rose last year to PLN 1 155 million and
were almost two times higher than in 2010. The generated net profit reached PLN
118.4 million or over 700% more than last year (PLN 14.7 million).

- We noted the highest turnover in the history of the company and one of the best
results in terms of operational and net profit. The consistently pursued strategy of building a strong pipe group is bearing its first fruits. Investors and shareholders should have a reason for satisfaction  – says Karina Wściubiak–Hankó, President of Alchemia.

In the 4th quarter the company earner PLN 55.5 million with revenues at PLN 108.5
million. This is a continuation of the improvement in performance observed since the beginning of 2011. However, the last three months of 2011 were the first quarter of the Group’s operations following the completion of a series of takeovers and a broad restructuring. Operating expenses in 2011 were three-and-a-half-times lower than in the corresponding period in the previous year.

- The year 2011 was a time of unprecedented changes in the Group; something that we
have worked at for many years became reality – we have built a consolidated steel
group in Poland. We started centralizing our sales division, cut costs, restructured our assets. We have achieved the expected synergies – adds Wściubiak-Hankó.


It is very clear from all this that these bloodsuckers just want to make more money off the workers' sweat and tears and we simply cannot accept this.

The protests continue at the ironworkers. In Warsaw the vampires from Alchemia can also expect to find us at their doors.



The Board of Huta Batory in Chorzow dismissed 50 people last week alone. It is known that they plan to fire 20% of the staff and that they have plans to change the employment structure so that 80% of the workers would be employed through temporary work agencies on trash contracts and with much lower pay. This is happening despite the fact that Alchemia finished last year with a net profit of 118,5 million zloties and a 1,16 billion zloty turnover.

The workers are demanding that the company stop the mass dismissals, take back those who were dismissed and honour the collective agreement. They also want to get payments from the social fund for the holidays and want those who are working through temp agencies on trash contracts to be hired by the ironworks.

In a way that is typical for employers, Karina Wściubiak-Hankó, the Director of Alechemia, is trying to scare the protesting workers with dismissals and liquidation of their workplace. „The workers are bringing more risk to themselves related to the possible closure of the metalworks. If there is no wish to have a dialogue on the part of the workers, the Board of Alchemia S.A. will be forced to close the works and transfer production elsewhere”.

The company already tried to break the will of the protesters by force. Only due to the solidarity of the local population was violence on the part of the bosses avoided.

Związek Syndykalistów Polski demands that the workers demands are met, that the dismissals are immediately stopped, that the company stop using trash contracts and hire all the workers directly.

The Board can go to work for 1400 zloties!

People who read this are would like to support the workers of Huta Batory should send a nasty email to those involved:

Use your imagination as to the text. But something like you support the workers of Huta Batory would be good for a start.