Standing ununited

Alan Heath
19-11-2002, 00:00

For the past few months the trade unions have seemingly stood in opposition to plans to change the labour code, which would introduce easier to fire terms and reductions in other privileges. The logic behind these moves is to make employment a more employer friendly thing to do and thus do something to protect those that have not got work and could have work. In protesting, the unions may have shot themselves in the foot as three million unemployed or under employed look on jealously at those that still have work. Meanwhile joblessness is likely to get worse. Janusz Sniadek, head of the Solidarity trade union says that his organisation is not opposed to changes in labour law but says that it must be part of a large package that will include less interference from the tax office and other bureaucrats in the economy. He says that the government promised change but this was shown to be empty words.

Janusz Śniadek admits that there will be more protests outside parliament but is unable to say when. He says that it is not the objective of unions to protest but it is broken promises that have lead to this situation.

Most protests have been those in given economic sectors such as heavy industry. Of course changes in the labour code have become part of these protests but the union boss says that the legal changes have only been proposed as a political move to avoid doing anything about the heavy hand of the state in the economy.

Janusz Śniadek notes that western investors immediately seek a positive relationship with the unions in the companies they acquire. On the other hand Polish managers often seek to eliminate the unions and as a result conflict occurs. He claims that more people are being sacked for union activity at present than were during martial law in 1981-1982.

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Podpis: Alan Heath

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