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From The Socialist newspaper, 2 July 2008

Poland: Thousands join 'hands off the Labour Code' demo

TWO THOUSAND trade unionists took to the streets of Warsaw, on 20 June, to protest against the government's proposed changes to the Labour Code. The demonstration was organised by the Committee for the Defence and Aid of Repressed Workers (KPiORP), under the slogan, "Enough repression and exploitation! Hands off the Labour Code!"

Paul Newbery and Florian Nowicki, GPR (CWI, Poland)

Apart from a sizeable delegation of miners and steelworkers from the trade union August 80, there were also delegations from Workers' Initiative, Solidarnosc '80, Solidarnosc and OPZZ unions. The demonstration was also supported by groups of tenants and pensioners.

Besides the KPiORP demo, on the same day 300 shipyard workers from the legendary Gdansk shipyard demonstrated to try to save their jobs.

There was also a protest of 500 health workers from epidemiology clinics and, a day earlier, railway workers from the Solidarnosc union demonstrated over early retirement.

In 2007, the number of strikes and workers' protests was the highest this decade and this figure increased in the first half of 2008.

New layers of workers are entering into struggle for decent pay and working conditions. Protests have rocked not only the mining industry, but also hospitals, the post office, public transport and even supermarkets.

This is what Donald Tusk's neo-liberal government and the bosses are afraid of - a united struggle of workers. Hence, the campaign against trade unions in the media and the attacks on workers' rights.

Tusk's aims

Tusk wants to make it easier to fire employees, by making the Labour Code "flexible". He wants to take away the right to early retirement for railway workers, power workers and building workers.

These changes to the Labour Code and the law on trade unions and collective bargaining are the most drastic since capitalist restoration in 1989. However, they are only the first steps in plans to nip in the bud the reawakening workers' movement and remove 'restrictions' for the dictatorship of capital.

Florian Nowicki, a member of the Group for a Workers Party (GPR), addressed the protesters in the name of KPiORP. He attacked the proposal to change the right to strike, which aims to make it practically impossible to organise a legal strike, and he called for a united struggle of all trade unions.

GPR played an active role in building for the demonstration. We also put up posters advertising the demonstration and took responsibility for a range of organisational matters. On the demonstration, we marched behind our two banners and gave out hundreds of leaflets.

Norbert Zadora, GPR member and chair of the Czestochowa branch of August 80, spoke to the demo in the name of GPR. His lively speech was met with loud cheers of approval. Zadora called on trade unions to organise a general strike, "from the mines of Silesia to the shipyards of Pomerania."

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In The Socialist 2 July 2008:

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Feature: 60 years of the NHS


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Poland: Thousands join 'hands off the Labour Code' demo


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