The “Week” was established in 2019 by the International Workers’ Association (IWA) to highlight the phenomenon of unpaid wages and the possibilities to fight back using anarcho-syndicalist methods. From 10th to 16th October the IWA unions drew attention to this issue in various ways. In the following report we inform about activities in France, Poland, Russia and Ukraine, Serbia, Slovakia and Spain.
Comrades in France dealt with three cases of unpaid wages. In the first case, they were contacted by a collective of 60 Spanish workers who were hired by a crook to harvest wine in France in September who did not paid them promised money. French and Spanish comrades now cooperate on this case together.
The second case is related to the union member working in hospital who is fighting with the hospital management for money that he is owed for overtimes he did in last 6 months. Many other workers in the hospital face this problem and the union is trying find a way to collectivise the dispute.
The third case is related to a struggle of a bakery workers who were not paid their wages. CNT-AIT joined other unions at a solidarity picket initiated by CNT-F (a split organization also known as CNT-Vignoles). While the two organisations joined together to support the workers, the experience of CNT-AIT France comrades was rather bitter. It was the second picket so far and the three affected workers didn’t show up again and it seemed that they are using the CNT-F just as a service union without being involved in the actions, and that the CNT-F uses the case just to create an image of an active union.
ZSP prepared a text for the Week about their activities related to the topic (https://iwa-ait.org/content/zsp-iwa-and-international-week-actions-again...). The union has focused on actions against Żabka franchise known for not paying its workers. Three pickets were organised at two different convenience stores. On 9th October in Warsaw the boss was not present but the action caused him to order the store to close (it is illegal to open such a store on Sunday if boss or family relative is not present as well). (https://iwa-ait.org/content/zabka-convenience-store-shut-down-after-visi...) On 16th October ZSP held a picket at the same store in Warsaw and one in Grodzisk Mazowiecki (near Warsaw). In the first case, the owner was finally there and immediately said he wanted to pay the worker but just needed to have his lawyer present – so the meeting was set a few days later. In the second case, in the words of ZSP “the owner and one of his relatives were crazy and a few times shoved our picketers and threatened them. However, they came to their senses and decided to pay what they owed to two workers. So we consider these actions to be successful, although it is just the tip of the iceberg with Żabka.”
ZSP was also active in the case of Ukrainian workers who are in a desperate situation as their boss stole all their money (tens of thousands of Euros). He moved to Spain where he is running a business in Valencia, so the ZSP has contacted CNT-AIT Spain to work on this case together.
ZSP also spread a leaflet related to the Week.
Russia (KRAS) and Ukraine (Assembly)
Comrades in Russia prepared a short report on latest protests against unpaid work in Russia which also contains information from Ukraine provided by comrades from Assembly collective in Kharkov (https://www.aitrus.info/node/6022). The cases include a strike for owed money in Ulan-Ude in Siberia and a desperate attempt to get money using a gun in Naberezhnye Chelny in Tatarstan.
Although not part of the IWA, comrades from Assembly collective in Kharkiv took part in the Week for the third time. They reported several cases of agencies deceiving those who look for work abroad (mainly unskilled women workers) and are forced to pay upfront just to eventually learn that there is no job or with worse conditions. Assembly also provided tips on what to do when workers try to get work abroad. (https://assembly.org.ua/agentstva-po-trudoustrojstvu-v-evrope-obmanyvayu...)
Additionally, Assembly publicized a call for a boycott of clothing brand MR520 that have not paid workers in Kharkiv since February (https://assembly.org.ua/brend-odyagu-mr520-kynuv-personal-po-zarplati-al...). When workers complained to the authorities, they were told to be patient (referring to the war), advised to quit and then simply stopped responding. While some workers eventually received part of the money owed on 5th October, the rest of the workers still have not received any money.
Thanks to promoting the Week ASI got in touch with workers with wages owed. They also published the statement, including in October edition of their journal Direktna akcija (https://www.facebook.com/borbenisindikat/posts/pfbid0WdTK43P9i6giw6h5KCF...). ASI is now preparing campaigns with workers who contacted them to fight for the unpaid wages.
Most of the workers that get in touch with the union are those with unpaid wages, so Priama Akcia promoted its “Problems At Work?” campaign in the streets of Bratislava and spread stickers and posters. A text on successful and unresolved cases of unpaid wages over the last year was published in Slovak and English (https://iwa-ait.org/content/successful-and-unresolved-cases-unpaid-wages...). PA translated a story of successful case of getting wages owed in Poland (https://zsp.net.pl/wygrana-zsp-z-kluboksiegarnia-na-warszawskim-muranowie, promoted a pamphlet about its disputes (https://www.priamaakcia.sk/Pamphlet-about-conflicts-of-Priama-Akcia-unio...) and open meetings in two cities where problems at work can be discussed (https://priamaakcia.sk/spravy/Otvorene-stretnutie-zvazu-Priama-akcia-v-T...).
CNT-AIT published the statement on its main website (https://www.cnt-ait.org/semana-internacional-contra-los-salarios-impagad...) and the same was done by unions on their social media.
CNT-AIT in Albacete informed about their dispute with company Flipa Jump. The problems started due to changing working hours which the comrade from the union refused to accept any longer. When he asked for longer hours he was proposed even shorter hours. A month and a half later he was dismissed for made-up disciplinary reasons which allowed the company save money on compensation. The union called for boycott of the company and demands that the company recognises the unfair dismissal and pay up a 91 days salary as a compensation.
More info: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=pfbid032ufXP38fwuVD7JX...
The comrades of CNT-Albacete also reported a dispute with the company Aimart Marketing, an electricity trading company, for the dismissal of a comrade and non-payment of wages. The dismissal of the comrade and the union's campaign have served to uncover several cases of fraud against consumers by this and other companies in the city.
More info: https://cntaitalbacete.es/2022/03/sindical-mafia-empresarial-mafia-energ...
CNT-AIT in Gijón prepared a text explaining situation when workers are accused of theft in the workplace. They advise that workers should never sign anything because it may cause further problems for them in the future.
More info: https://www.facebook.com/cntaitgijon/posts/pfbid02wDCFaXfYruZVXRbBfueUTr...
Other IWA unions and organisations close to IWA are also involved in disputes over unpaid wages and several of them participated in the Week for example by promoting the topic on their websites and social networks.
In case the bosses owe you wages and you would like to fight and get them back, do not hesitate to contact an IWA group in you region.
See the statement to this year’s Week: