On 10 December 2009 workers from Collar Textil started the occupation of the plant in Opatów. It began when the workers had decided to prevent the disposal of tools, engines and textile stuff. WI directly supports this action. Former manager tried to steal the property of the company. The policemen who were brought to the plant were more interested in former director's application who suggested that she was unlawfully deprived of freedom. By the way policemen did not check if she was authorized to be there. The other former director was in the premises as well and he denied to have been imprisoned. He signed a paper that he had spent over 12 hours in the factory volontuarily.
After this incident 150 workers out of 360 crew members spent the night in the plant. Unfortunately betwen 1 and 10 of Dcember a lot of stuff and engines disappeared. There are many circumstances that suggest that this dirty business lasted more than the 10 last days.
Members of WI appeared in the facotry on 12 December.
The 28th anniversary of the state of war was also very interesting. A lot of politicians stood in front of the cameras. Most of them were there for the first and the last time. They gave empty promises and offered help which is guaranteed by the Polish law. Even the local government (mayor of Opatów) did it. She promised but she did not want to give such help. It all become obvious after 3 days. It was the reason why the mayor of Opatów had to speak to the delegation of protesters in the town hall. She gave some promises which are written on paper and signed by her. All protesters hoped that their difficult situation would be not used during the local election.
On 15 December policemen accompanied by the bailiff came to the factory. They protected the evidences of acts aganist the company. It is suprising that they got interested with the case two months after the workers sent a denuntiation to the prosecutor that something was going wrong in their workplace. In September they informed the prosecutor that for example the board had stolen 28 000 PLN from employee cash loan or walked off with trade unions fees.
On 16 December Protest Commitee was formed. Protesters' delegation appeared in the mayor's office. They demanded the realization of all promises which mayor had made. It is very important because all the workers are in a very difficult position. They did not receive their salaries for over 4 or even 6 months. They cannot get help even from the state because the court has to announce bankrupcy but before the court can do it, the creditors (workers, local goverment, supplier) have to provide all documentation to the court. There is a huge problem because the board hid the documentation.
Protesters showed that they are desperate and occupied mayor's office for 30 minutes. If they do not get help in the nearest future they will exacerbate the protest.
The cheated workers from the textil plant in Opatów marched for 1,5 hour through the streets of Opatów. The temperature of 17degrees below zero did not disturb more than 150 workers. They walked with banners: "Give our money back", "We fight with dishonest employers", "We demand justice in our land". The participants, mostly women, shouted slogans: "Thieves" or "Rowicki go to work for 500 zlotys". Workers were accompanied by 3 police cars. Policemen photographed desperate women who demand justice. It seems that even such situation can be dangerous for the state.
Workers marched in front of the windows of bailiff's office, the court but only the mayor decided speak to the protesters. He told that he can help only the most vulnerable people. He could not explain what he had meant. Probably all of 360 workers who did not get their salaries are not the most vulnerable. There are many signs that he do not want to fulfill promises which he had made a copule days before. It was the reason why the protestors and the inhabitants of the town gathered around shouted: "This is your last term Mr mayor".
At the moment the abadoned workers do not expect any special social assistance. They wondered if they could only receive their wages. They cannot get the support from the state because they cannot provide the needed documentation which employer does not want to give them. They can count only on themselves and their families. Workers from the textil plant in Opatów have not got their salaries for 6 months. According to the Polish law, employer who persistently breaks labour law rules can be accused based on the penal law. But the prosecutor started to act 2 months after the media had publicized the issue.
The plant occupation may be finished even within the next few days. Although the mayor promised not to stop supplying the workers with fresh water and energy but they can cut electicity supply because the employer has a debt over 120 000 zlotys to the energy company.
If you would like to support the protesters, please send your words of support to the person who is responsible for this situation.
tel. + 48 12 643 77 56, +48 503 333 160, +48 692 731 041, +48 22 425 98 46
fax: +48 22 425 33 95