13 May 2010

Polish drivers revolt against privatisation

Gostynin, Poland
Workers at the state-owned bus company PKS in Gostynin began a strike last Tuesday, 4 May. They are opposing the privatization of the company, and they are threatening to escalate protests.
Workers are also demanding pay rises. They earn pretty close to minimum wage: about 300 euros per month. They are demanding a raise of about 125 euros.
The State Treasury announced in December that it wanted to sell PKS bus companies in seven cities in the region (Mazowsze). The workers are afraid of what may happen after privatization.
The Treasury decides selectively about the fate of such companies, tending to sell off the profitable ones, or the ones with property. On the other hand local governments took them over in places such as Wadowice, Nowy Sącz, Krakow and Starogard Gdanski.
PKS Gostynin is hiring strike breakers. 88 of the 109 workers, including all the drivers, are on strike. There are 4 unions operating in this workplace (such a situation is not unusual in Poland).
Earlier this week union reps were meant to meet with the director of the local PKS for talks. Instead, he threatened to file for bankruptcy if the workers don't return to work. In response, they occupied his office.

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