GFTU BGCM Report 2019

widening in professional and higher earning areas. Despite equal pay being on the statute book, the diversity of pay in a system that is not regulated by collective bargaining and depends of fragmented and localised negotiations is riven with inconsistencies and inequalities. There are between 50% and 80% pay differentials for the same work in many areas of employment. The current Polish government does not pursue a modern feminist agenda and is creating subsidies that in effect encourage women to stay at home and not enter the labour market. There are already 20% more men in professional roles than women. There are government cash subsidies for additional children and school books which the unions would prefer to be replaced by public funding for kindergartens and nurseries and the actual provision of books rather than cash to families. As in most countries where the neoliberal agenda has been promoted some extraordinary examples of slavery exist within the Polish economy. Examples were given of some immigrant workers earning 0.25 euro cents an hour, many new unpaid ‘internships’ and fee for task agreements being set up outside any framework of employment legislation. Examples were given of North Korean workers employed and sending most of their wages home to the Korean government and of many Ukrainian workers in effectively agricultural work gangs. One speaker described the construction industry as the ‘an area of criminal employment activity.’ Unions are able to call on the SLI to make inspections and are also arguing that all their FTOs should be Inspectors with enforcement powers. Yet penalties remain weak with maximum fines of 500 euros unless the SLI requires a case to go to court in which case there is a maximum of 7,000 euro fines. Needless to say the unions are calling for higher penalties. It appeared that there may be a high level of FTOs per member with the figure one FTO for every 500 members being mentioned. Union colleagues who met us had to deal also with the

sudden privatisation of a hospital transferred from the public sector to a private company with no consultation whatsoever and having to argue in the Supreme Court that domestic and EU legislation requires consultation in advance. Labour and health and safety regulation It appears that there is in Poland a State Labour Inspection (SLI) office, which acts as a combination of our Health and Safety Inspectorate, the old Factory Inspectorate, the new Gang Masters’ Authority and other related regulatory bodies. But the unions were universally scathing of its under resourcing and inability to function effectively. They said that the government, with its nationalistic inclinations spends less per annum on the SLI than on heritage preservation projects. There are some 200 fatalities per year in workplace accidents in Poland. The unions believed that 90% of workplaces are not inspected, that most restaurants and cafes in Warsaw for example are in breach of legislation and operating illegally as far as employment conditions are concerned Industrial action and campaigning Theoretically under Polish trade union legislation employers can sue unions, but this power has not been used, however, the procedures for taking lawful strike action are very lengthy and convoluted and of course have to be exercised at workplace level. This makes generalised and solidarity action illegal, so the union federations have to synchronise action in literally thousands of workplaces and they have done so on some occasions with some success. For example the teachers took simultaneous action 18 months ago in 20,000 workplaces. When a government proposal was made to increase the retirement age a huge demonstration led by the different trade union federations, some 100,000 people,

International Work | Page 41

Made with FlippingBook - professional solution for displaying marketing and sales documents online