For the last five months the Workers' Initiative Trade Union (OZZ Inicjatywa Pracownicza) has been campaigning for respecting the union rights and improvement of work conditions of all the employees (not only of the unionized) at Aelia Duty Free at the Warsaw Chopin Airport. We claimed: providing the chairs to the employees at their workplaces, introducing procedures ensuring respectful treatment of employees by their superiors, providing work clothing, informing about changes in the work schedule in advance, co-deciding on the use of the social fund. Initially, Aelia's management refused to hold any talks with the Union, wrongly claiming it was 'illegal'. They also threatened to dismiss Anna Kucharzyk, the Union representative. Their threats were fulfilled on June the 7th by unjustly accusing Anna of "heavy violation of basic duties at the workplace" and "disorganizing work" in the shops at the Warsaw airport.
As a response to the Company's actions, Workers' Initiative launched a protest campaign. There were picket lines in front of the Aelia shops at the airports throughout Poland. Union organizations as well as customers from Poland and abroad sent thousands letters of protest to the Company via e-mails. The campaign also received support from domestic and international trade unions. The case also gained media attention followed by the interest of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and the State Labour Inspectorate. Thanks to widely-spread protest campaign, our colleagues' claims from the month of May have been partially fulfilled. Unfortunately, the demand to bring the unlawfully dismissed Union representative back to work is still valid.
At the moment, the company's management is using a legal path in attempt to silence the critique. The National Committee of the Workers' Initiative Trade Union received the decision of the Regional court in Poznań which made it illegal for the union to, among the others: (1) publish materials that would include catchwords about the exploitation, repressions and blackmailing the Aelia workers for their union activity; (2) distribute the 'Workers Initiative' bulletin which consists of descriptions of the company's actions; (3) organize the picket-lines related to exploitation, intimidation and repressions of the company's employees. The decision was made at the secret meeting without the presence of the union representatives. In our opinion, it is a clear example of circumscribing the fundamental right of the workers to unionize, run information campaigns as well as express their critical opinions about conditions at workplace and their superiors' behaviour.
We have already issued a complaint about the court's decision. We would also like to publicize the scandalous case of censoring our activity. Care for a "good name" and reputation of the private company came out to be more important for the state court than the workers' rights to struggle for the improvement of their conditions at work. That is why, the protests against censoring the union activity are organized around the country.
An injury to One is an injury to All!
The Workers' Initiative Trade Union