Over the past week, an epidemic of „Carrier Pigeon Flu” has spread to over 40 post offices throughout Poland. The flu, which is characterized by general malaise, is caused by overwork due to poor working conditions and has great impact on the health. That is why a call was spread to postal workers advising them to see their doctors, which has resulted in a large amount of workers going on sick leave. In some cities, as many as 1/3 of the staff are out and in some smaller towns, nobody is working.
Over the last few months, people from different professions - such as teachers - have „gotten sick”. Such actions are thought to be a way of avoiding the very prohibitive laws regarding legal strikes and a way to circumvent the unions which often discourage any decisive action by the workers.
The health advisory was issued through a network of postal workers started by ZSP. Workers drew up a list of 14 demands, which were delivered by a representative of the union before the flu epidemic took hold. Workers demand, among other things, a raise of 1000 zloties and the reinstatement of Rafal and Zbigniew, who were fired for their union activity. Other demands include postulates which the workers presented after national meetings started to press for the workers concerns outside of the mainstream unionists, which tend to protect the interests of the state-run enterprise over the interests of the workers.
As the action started, the management of the Post Office has attempted to criminalize a member of ZSP for the third time. A large criminal case was filed and a report sent to the State Security Agency (ABW) implying that, among other things, calling for a strike is „criminal activity” and that the ZSP is trying to overthrow the government. Amongst the allegations made in the documents, we can read the following:
„In connection to the investigation on the ties between the ZSP and groups of Post Office workers, we are sending this report to the ABW so that they can check if their actions and the actions of workers at the Post Office which work with them will lead to the destabilization of the Post Office which is an entity which carries out strategic action to defend the safety of the country and public order and, as a consquence, if this won't destablize the State.
We notify the security organs about our suspicion that ZSP has committed a crime by calling for a general strike which would put the Post Office, which carries out strategic activity to defend the Polish State, at risk of ceasing to function because of a nationwide paralysis caused by a general strike.”
None of this has deterred the union. So far the state has refused on several occasions to register a its union at the Post Office on numerous ridiculous pretexts. The Post Office therefore pretends it does not exist, although it is clear that the workers remain determined to put forward their demands.ZSP also continues to fight for the reinstatement of its member, Zbigniew T. from Wroclaw who was fired after 36 years of work for his organizing activities. In January, a court case against the Post Office took place and the local ZSP organized a solidarity picket. One postman from the union quit in solidarity with Zbyszek and others have declared to do the same if the Post Office refuses to discuss their demands.