Picket and Informational Action against Trash Contracts

We already wrote about how the bar Nowy Wśpaniały Świat hires barstaff on poor wages and trash contracts. The bar is connected to the liberal think tank Krytyka Polityczna. Following our first picket, we heard that the boss is "considering" complying with the labour law. In the meanwhile, members of ZSP involved in the tenants' movement were invited to this place as the audience in a debate on the right to public housing.

We should be very clear about what debates on social issues look like at Krytyka Polityczna. Although the organizers (the Green Party, which is running on the socialdemocratic SLD ticket in elections and the Swiss Embassy) decided to hold a 5 hour conference on the right to housing, the panelists did not include a single representative of a tenants organization. Instead they invited people from the Swiss Embassy (who brought along their exhibit on "Direct Democracy" [sic]), from the city housing department, from the city council of Vienna and some others. It is this way that politics usually look at Krytyka Polityczna, with liberals in polite cooperation with politicians talking about principles like direct democracy, cutting the demos out of the picture. Reactions from our activists to the invitation to listen to these "experts" ranged from telling them exactly what we think to deciding to go. After all, we needed to return with an informational action.

After the first picket, we understood that, despite the fact that the establishment is frequented by the liberal elite, few of them seemed to be aware of the rights guaranteed to workers under Polish law. So we made some posters explaining why hiring the barstaff on trash contracts is a violation of the labour code and about what workers can lose as a result.

Not that all of their clientele and supporters even want to know. We were confronted by an activist from the Women's Party, who came and started removing posters complaining about how all this is "not nice" and who was claiming that trash contracts are better than no contracts. Which is interesting since the topic of trash contracts was raised at both the annual March 8 demo this year and the European Congress of Women, which took place in Warsaw the weekend before. There many women's organizations and women, ranging in political orientation, strongly criticized the effects of trash contracts for women, especially regarding issues like lower pensions and lack of maternity leave.

Behind the open window, passerbys could observe the staff of the bar selling liberals books and Tshirts with the face of the famous figure of Solidarity, Jacek Kuron. All in all, quite an interesting picture.

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