It has been a difficult year for employees around the world – the last 12 months have been dominated by inflation, war, the government’s anti-labour policies and many regulations harmful to workers. But at the same time, our trade union grew rapidly. In 2022, about 3300 new members and 10 new trade unions joined our ranks. As a result, we already have nearly 6000 members and 26 company and inter-company organizations.
In the past year, we have been the target of brutal attacks by anti-labour employers. Three of our union leaders, Ilona Garczyńska at the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS), Dariusz Pawelczak at the Municipal Transport in Kołobrzeg and Krystian Kosowski at Sii Polska, were laid off for union activities. The union’s actions encountered particularly brutal repression from of the President of the Social Insurance Institution, Gertruda Uścińska, who filed a lawsuit in civil and criminal count against Ilona Garczyńska and Piotr Szumlewicz. Uścińska consistently harasses our union in ZUS, violating the Trade Union Act, the Act on the Settlement of Collective Labour Disputes, and the Labour Code. We were equally appalled by the actions of the President of Sii Poland, Gregoire Nitot, who not only fired our union’s leader, but also officially announced that he does wish to have trade unions in his company. Moreover, real wages in the national economy decreased last year, including a violent decline in wages in the public sector. The real level of the minimum wage has also decreased. Another problem was the atrocious quality of the legislation, especially the new version Polish Order with turns to be a legal dud of the year.
Despite the authoritarian government and hostile environment, we attained several victories over the past year.
At the national level, we have promoted and publicised many important proposals, such as: the introduction of 2.5 times higher remuneration for work on bank holidays, the introduction of interest for delayed wages in the amount of 0.5% of the outstanding amount per day, wage transparency or the right to disconnect, i.e., the right to refrain from telephone and electronic work-related communication that takes place outside working hours. We also managed to block the most severe dysfunctions related to the Polish Order and stop the anti-union changes in the Act on the Settlement of Collective Labour Disputes, which would gravely limit the right to protest.
In the Social Insurance Institution, despite the layoff of our leader and brutal repression against our organization, we managed to win an increase in rise from the planned PLN 300 gross per employee to PLN 900 gross (the government manged to find additional funds just a day before we announced the strike ballot).
The trade union at National Revenue Administration (KAS) is the largest of our organizations, that already gathers about 2,500 people and keeps on growing. It played a major role in the rejection of the Polish Order by arranging actions attended by majority of the tax office employees (e.g. leaving work for 15 minutes or donating blood on a massive scale). The union also organized a protest at the Ministry of Finance, in which about 400 people took part. As a result of our union’s activities at the KAS, the total increases in 2023 are expected to amount to an average of nearly 20% per employee.
We have also been successful in PLL LOT, where our Cabin and Aviation Crew Union operates. Our union entered five collective disputes and filed more than 150 lawsuits against the employers, the first two of which recently ended in benefit for our activists (they were about withdrawing the reprimand for social media entries and reversing the degradation to the lower position of one of our stewardesses). At the end of the year, the anti-union president of PLL LOT, Rafał Milczarski, was dismissed.
Our union operating at the Municipal Family Support Center in Piotrków Trybunalski organized a warning strike, and at the end of the year negotiated significant wage increases and will probably soon sign a salary agreement.
Our union in the Municipal Heat Power Plant in Kędzierzyn-Koźle in August negotiated a 700 PLN increase and is currently looking forward to another increase in wages.
Another important victory last year was the final judgment in the case of our Polish caregiver in Germany, who won against the employment agency. The court found that the parties had an employment relationship and ordered the agency to pay the caregiver 12,500 euros.
Our entire union also supports all three of our dismissed members. In all these cases, lawsuits have been already filed, and all three of them can count on professional legal assistance. At the same time, we continue a fight to get our members back to work before the end of the lawsuits.
In 2022, we repeatedly appeared in nationwide media, especially our chairman, Piotr Szumlewicz, whose comments appeared in the largest radio and television stations as well as newspapers and news portals. Szumlewicz also began to write columns on employees’ issues for Gazeta Wyborcza and throughout the year he host program about trade unions in Reset Obywatelski, where his guests were our leading members. We also managed to publicize the problems of ZUS and tax office employees (the leaders of our unions in these institutions, Agata Jagodzińska and Ilona Garczyńska were interviewed by the leading media), we took part in meetings with social partners and members of various parliament groups. As a result, our recognition and reach on social media increased significantly.
Our financial situation is difficult because we are financed only by membership fees and voluntary support. However, the revenues from contributions have doubled and exceeded PLN 115 000, with the expenses amounted to less than PLN 90 000. We were financed exclusively by our members and supporters (the contribution from each member of our union is PLN 2, and from a person belonging to us as a single employee is PLN 10). The membership fees were mainly used to finance our daily activates. The additional funds needed for legal support were partially collected during events organized for those individual cases. We did not obtain any funds from state authorities, political parties, business partners or foreign entities. Our main expenses were salaries for our two-person management board (the total costs are PLN 34 900 per year), rental of the registered office (PLN 27 500) and legal assistance (PLN 16 700).
If our actions and goals are close to your heart, we will be grateful for any support. Our account number: 28 1600 1462 1822 8776 3000 0001. In the title of the transfer, enter: support contribution for statutory purposes.