On 11 March we received information about a temporary work agency attempting to evict 30 African migrant workers employed at the Spa Food factory in the town of Śmigiel near Poznań. After a joint intervention by IP (Inicjatywa Pracownicza – the Workers’ Initiative), Wielkopolska Tenants Association (Wielkopolskie Stowarzyszenie Lokatorów) and the Anarchist Federation, the workers managed to get part of the overdue payments back and stop the eviction.
In response to the protest, representatives of the agency ordered the workers to leave the accommodation, provided by the intermediary, immediately. Both sides of the dispute called the police. After arriving at the place, the police took the side of the agency, ordering the workers to either leave the premises “within 5 minutes", or end the protest and return to work (without a guarantee of payment of outstanding salaries). Under pressure from the police and the agency, 27 people decided to leave the quarters and were taken to the nearby town of Kościan, with no guarantee of employment or accommodation.
Evicting the foreign workers, the agency not only violated their tenant rights, but also the prohibition of eviction, introduced in one of the "anti-crisis shields" introduced in the face of the pandemic. Pressure from both the agency and the police for the workers to immediately move out had no legal basis, and was based exclusively on their precarious social and economic situation. Three people who decided not to leave the premises were threatened with a larger police force eviction if they don’t return to work. One police officer explicitly stated that "if they do not have job, they are not entitled to accommodation." Apparently, the officers obstructed recording the intervention by the workers and their telephone contact with a lawyer.
On March 12, after receiving the report of labor rights violations, activists of the Anarchist Federation who are also affiliated with the IP union and the Wielkopolska Tenants Association, arrived at the scene. In response, the labor agency called the police again. A representative of the agency also came arrived but left the place immediately after being asked "Why doesn't the agency pay the workers?" However, the agency paid each worker an advance of 500 PLN that day. The rest was promised to be paid next week. The workers decided to continue working and were not kicked out in the end.
Spa Food factory in Śmigiel produces meat and vegetable products. Opinions about the company not paying the wages on time are common on GoWork website (in Polish): [go to GoWork page].
The IP (Workers’ Initiative Union) invites all workers, who would like to join the struggle to improve working conditions to get in touch:
Telephone: + 48 530 377 534
e-mail: ip [@] ozzip.pl.