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Monthly Archives: January 2015

Bakunin bicentenary

asr 63 coverAnarcho-Syndicalist Review #63 completes a two-issue commemoration of the bicentenary of Bakunin’s birth with articles on the emergence of anarchism within the First International, the introduction of anarchism to Spain, and a brief review of recent scholarship on Bakunin.

Other articles examine anarchism and technology, the consequences of austerity in Great Britain, Colin Ward’s anarchism, the London dock strike of 1889, anarchism and Kobani, and Malatesta’s anarchism.

“Unions” for thugs

The Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police recently won an arbitration order reinstating police officers caught on video in one of a series of robberies of 22 bodegas. (There was a back-up camera in this particular bodega, which filmed the cops cutting the wire to the camera they could see; the other victims only had one camera and so had only their accounts, which the police of course ignored.) A Washington Post columnist aptly described the outcome as “a lesson in American justice.”

The FOP and its ilk like to style themselves as unions, and to lay claim to the heritage of labor struggles for social justice. The Boston police who struck in 1919 (and were all fired) may have had the right to make such a claim. But today’s police “unions” are well-honed political machines which defend the thugs in uniform no matter how clear cut the evidence of murder, torture and other abuses. In These Times reviews this sordid history in a recent post to its web site focusing on Chicago and New York City. It concludes with these words:

police unions further the-all-too-accurate conception that the police are an occupying force in poor communities of color, and are antithetical in principle and action to the progressive principles of the labor movement.

Solidarity with Amazon.com workers

Recently a group of Polish Amazon warehouse workers struck against unsafe working conditions and pay issues at two Polish fulfillment centers. The workers are contracted through Manpower, Addeco and other temp agencies.

According to the Polish Syndicalist Union (ZSP), the union the workers are organizing with:

Working conditions are even worse than in other countries. Not only the low pay and long hours. Some Amazon workers, especially those hired by agencies, complain of a number of problems including late payments, incorrect payments, not having the mandatory health insurance payments, etc. etc. There is also the matter of workers in one center having a higher [pay] rate than in the other.

The Polish ZSP Amazon workers have launched an international campaign in support of their effort to change conditions at Amazon in Poland.

In solidarity, the Workers Solidarity Alliance is initiating a support campaign for a North American workers week of action Monday, January 26, through Saturday, January 31st. {amazonsolidaritycampaign@gmail.com}

Support the struggle against abuse and for better working conditions at Amazon Poland!
We call for actions of any kind against Amazon or Manpower work agency. Besides pickets at Amazon or Manpower, we would also appreciate publishing articles or making any leafletting or postering action which would inform potential Amazon customers about the working conditions. We also ask for organizations and individuals to send protest letters.
The agencies Adecco and Randstad are also involved, so they may also be picketed.

ZSP started union activity in Amazon with workers in the Sady and Bielany Wroclawskie fulfillment centers. Some are hired directly by Amazon and others were hired through Manpower, Adecco or Ranstad work agencies.
In December some people started to leave work at Amazon because not only are the working conditions terrible, but there were also problems with incorrect payments. A few people decided to organize. We started with Manpower, since the biggest problems seemed to be for people hired through this agency. We announced a picket at its headquarters on Dec. 16, but before the action, Manpower contacted us trying to get us to call off actions. They paid one of the workers overdue salary. We still went with a picket and have been discussing the issues with them. Some other payments have been made but Manpower has not acted quickly on all the cases. We also picketed Adecco, which also tried to get us to call off actions, but they made payments very quickly and went to Amazon to straighten out the situation. For this reason, we decided to focus on Manpower. However, later we heard of more cases of abuse from the side of Adecco, including not paying the obligatory health insurance payments. So although we originally made the appeal only for actions against Manpower, there are still serious problems with Adecco and Randstad and pickets there would also be welcome. The situation is still developing and we have new information all the time. We expect new problems to appear in January, when workers should get money for December. We believe that the problem may originate with Amazon, but the agencies are still responsible to ensure proper payments.
As more and more complaints are appearing, check for updates and more information here: http://zsp.net.pl/zsp/english

WORKING CONDITIONS
Stressful, high-pressure work, non-stop running around warehouse. 10.5 hour shifts – 10 hours of work plus unpaid 30 minute lunch break. No other breaks. Changing shifts, workers have to work 18:30-05:00 half of their working time. Night shifts and Sunday work not paid extra. Salary – about 3 euros an hour gross. The warehouses in Poland serve mostly the German market, but also France and UK. Workers get about a fourth of the salaries in Germany for the same job. Working conditions vary in Amazon but in UK workers make more money at night and in many countries employees have additional 15-minute breaks. Not in Poland. Many workers have to travel more than 1 hour to get to work. Workers in Sady near Poznan are paid more than the workers in Bielany Wroclawskie for the same work.
PROBLEMS WITH WORK AGENCIES
Workers feel they were misled about working conditions when recruited through Manpower and Adecco. They were led to believe they would earn more money. They are not told that they wouldn’t get extra pay for evenings and Sundays and, according to some workers, they were promised the statutory 20% extra. According to the law, workers should received their salaries no later than on the 10th day of the month after the work was completed, but the payments have been regularly late. For example, both Adecco and Manpower have promised us that some payments for work in October and November would be paid – but only in January.

UPDATES
Workers at Amazon have a communication forum where ZSP union publishes articles about rights at work. We now receive dozens of reports about new problems. Workers did not receive money for time they were at health and safety training or for days when they were employed but Amazon did not assign them work. For some workers this was as long as three weeks. In both cases they are legally entitled to pay.
Workers are forced to move large boxes manually by cart. There have been cases where the agencies have not paid the social security payments /health care so they are not insured in case of injury.

DEMANDS
FROM AMAZON
Higher rates of pay for work at night and on Sunday
15 minute paid break
No difference in working conditions for directly employed and agency workers
Equalization of salaries in Sady and Bielany Wroclawskie
Payment for time without assigned work (postojowe)
Payment for health and safety training
Forklifts for heavy weights

FROM MANPOWER
Clear explanation of working time and accounting period to workers before they sign contract
Clear pay slips, showing number of hours worked and all deductions
Payments made in full by 10th of the month, in accordance with the law
Payments to ZUS (social security/health care) on time
Payment for time without assigned work (postojowe)
Payment for health and safety training
Money for laundry equivalent (which figures on payslip, but isn’t paid)

Fax/Email To Amazon
An email form will be set up for individual protests at amazon.zsp.net.pl We ask organizations supporting to send letters separately.
Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon: jeff@amazon.com
Director of Operations, CEE, Kerry Person: kerry.person@amazon.com
Fax: +352 26 73 33 32 or +1 206 622-2405
We support the campaign of the ZSP for better working conditions in Amazon Poland! No to exploitation and taking advantage of cheap labour! Give the workers a break and higher wages!
To Manpower
US Headquarters: Ania.Waszkiewicz@manpowergroup.com
Fax. 1 (414) 319-3401
Warsaw Office Fax: + 48 22 50 40 717 manpowergroup@pl.manpowergroup.com
We support the demands of workers in Amazon Poland to receive their payments correctly and on time from your agency!

Amazon locations: http://www.amazon.jobs/search-location http://www.amazon.com/Locations-Careers/b?ie=UTF8&node=239366011
Manpower locations:  http://www.manpowergroup.com/wps/wcm/connect/manpowergroup-en/home/about/globaloperations#.VKPAUSuG_3s

All international efforts are initiated and coordinated by the ZSP Amazon workers. Any correspondence should go directly to: amazon@zsp.net.pl

We encourage all comrades to aid this campaign. The Workers have also set up a site with an electronic protest letter: http://amazon.zsp.net.pl/