Reaction to Plaza Centers Letter and Comments on the Construction Industry

Such a letter comes as no surprise to us.

This is not the first time we have seem problems with such a pyramid of responsibility on construction sites and it probably will not be the last. Each entity ensures the public that there is not fault and no problem. Workers, who unwisely agreed to work off the records or did not get their overtime evidenced, are just screwed.

In the meanwhile, how convenient for Plaza Centers – it is, in fact, not in a contractual employment relationship with many people working on its mall, so it is not their liability. In Poland it turns out the law is not as advanced as in some other countries where workers can make claims against general contractors or construction firms as well as their direct employer.

The letter from Plaza Centers has some interesting elements. For example, they claim that the worker in question, if he has a dispute, can make a claim to a labor court. Oh, really? We wonder what percentage of people on the building site actually have a work contract. Most people employed in construction have civil contracts, therefore the labor court has no competence in their case. Also, the State Labor Inspectorate investigates cases related to people on work contracts, not civil contracts. This fact is a big barrier for workers throughout the construction industry, who find it difficult to make certain claims or complaints.

In the end, we would clarify that is impossible to say what the exact chain of non-payments was at Torun Plaza since each entity involved has given some slightly different story, officially or unofficially. We know about non-payments of workers and this was NOT one person, as the Company is claiming. We also know that at the moment Plaza Centers issued a statement in the press claiming that the subcontractors claimed they had paid everyone, this was not the case. We do not exclude the possibility that the subcontractors misinform Plaza Centers, or that they are somehow at fault. Nonetheless, although the bourgeois law allows Plaza, through its non-employer relationship with the people building their mall, to avoid responsibility for what is going on, we say that the main companies have a responsibility to ensure standards.

In many cases, we see that when subcontractor companies cut costs dramatically or avoid certain safety procedures, this is because the general contractor has created such demands or conditions that force this. Subcontractor companies complain about notoriously late payments, deadlines which are too tight or lack of provision of certain conditions. This does not mean these companies should be viewed as victims – but the workers often are. They are the victims of a change of companies, each less and less responsible, with the ones on top, the ones making the important decisions, furthest removed from responsibility towards those on the bottom, the workers.

Since Plaza has claimed that there is „no problem” and has apparently done nothing to really investigate the situation with unpaid overtime and undocumented work, instead approaching workers with different degrees of coercion, trying to hush or scare them, we suppose that its real purpose should be clear.

For Plaza Center's Letter, see:  www.zsp.net.pl

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