On February 25, members of the ZSP went to a cultural event co-organized by the Spanish Embasy, the Ministry of Culture of Spain and the Cervantes Institute at the Staszica Palace in Warsaw. We chose to go to this event because of the presence of people from the Spanish government and lecturers from the Complutense University in Madrid, where our comrades are demanding better working conditions, employment contracts for teaching fellows, an end to anti-union repression, the reinstatement of fired comrades and an end to budget cuts in education.
We came with a banner which we hung by the entrance next to the stairs everybody had to use. We prepared leaflets in both Polish and Spanish explaining that we support the demands of both our comrades in the University and in the National Library of Spain. Both unions, part of the CNT-AIT, are fighting against precarious working conditions, against budget cuts in areas like culture and education and against their commercialization and privatization.
The ZSP this month already sent protest letters about the situation in the University and prepared some informational actions in solidarity with the comrades from the National Library. The comrades from the union in Complutense University explained that there are many budget cuts and a decapitalization of the universities. At the same time, precarious working conditions are on the rise. They have been fighting for the recognition of teaching fellows as employees and some of their members have been fired. They are demanding that these people be normally hired and that the university stop exploiting such workers.
We support these demands and point out that our situation in Poland is even worse as on top of the huge amount of precarious labor, we have horrible conditions for regular employees as well. The ZSP famously held protests of doctoral students a couple of years ago who threatened to go on strike. The doctoral students pointed out that they are required to do normal work, but especially after the introduction of certain changes related to the Bologna Process, they are treated as students on stipends, not as workers. The money they received was far under the minimum wage, meaning that people lecturing at the university and performing other work there were earning a lot less than their fellow students working at McDonalds.
We also remembered the struggle of the comrades at the National Library in Madrid, as it is another educational-cultural institution where our comrades are present. The library illegally employs over 400 outsourced workers, paying huge money to intermediaries instead of to the workers. In some cases, about half of what is paid by the Library goes to the intermediary, leaving the workers with miserable salaries and more precarious working conditions. The comrades from the CNT-AIT in the National Library have been fighting for the regular employment of the staff. Several of the comrades were repressed and fired. The union demands their reinstatement and an end to the use of outsourcing, among other things.
We support both struggles and this small action was a sign of our solidarity. We pointed out that we are facing many of the same problems in Poland, but there is not much awareness or resistance. We mentioned that we are resuming work in this area and also invited people to the upcoming protest against school closures.
In Madrid or Warsaw, the problem is the same and so is the solution: workers' self-organization and resistance!
Solidarity with the comrades from Madrid!