Contribution of the Communist Party of Poland
The global crisis of capitalism lasting for the last 5 years is deepening. It has reached nearly all countries of Europe. Policy of the European Union institutions during this crisis is aimed to save profits of the capitalists and impose austerity measures for the people. Workers share in division of goods is decreasing. Labour laws are being deregulated in favour of great capital and workers protests suppressed with force. Expenditures on social services are being cut across the Europe. We are witnessing various effects of this crisis in similar, but in Southern and Eastern Europe the austerity measures are much more severe.
Global economical crisis came to Poland later, but nowadays its effects are increasing. The crisis is evident in increasing exploitation of the working people, in worsening conditions of work and decreasing living standards of most of the society, in more and more limited access to free healthcare and education. The main effect of the crisis is rising unemployment and emigration. Every day we hear about companies that go bankrupt and employment reductions meaning growing unemployment. At the beginning of 2013 it has reached over 14%. Due to seasonal works and increased need for work in spring and summer until 13%. It is about 1% higher than at the same time previous year. Lack of work forces people to migrate to western Europe. Over 1,5 million people had already left Poland to work abroad, mainly in Great Britain, Ireland and Germany.
Austerity measures taken by Polish authorities are similar to those in other countries but in many aspects much more severe for working people. In many cases they deepen social effects of the crisis like in case of rising the pension age to 67 years, which will increase unemployment. It was made despite massive opposition of the public opinion. Polish pension system, which from the 1990’s is partly controlled by the private financial companies running so called pension funds also is in crisis.
The other important reform was liquidation of the 8 hour workday. Government strived for making working hours more flexible so employers will be able to force people to work longer than 8 hours when needed. Also paying terms were made more flexible. Employers were given possibility to withhold some salaries because yearly balance of salaries was introduced. Previously monthly salaries were compulsory. In some temporary jobs it may cause problems with getting any salary. Employers organizations demand even more. They want to limit the role of the trade unions, for example by cutting their financing and making legal procedures of organising strikes more complicated and much longer to fulfill so that the right to strike would be only a theory.
There is no limit to capitalist strive for increasing profits. Capital is able to commit any crime to gain them. We have an example of the assassination attempt that took place recently in Poland. 23 years old worker was nearly killed by the employer when he has demanded about 300 euro of overdue salaries. It was the most drastic example but many similar cases of attacks on workers are still taking place. Crisis situation lasts in Poland since restitution of capitalism. It is only more or less visible. Capitalism was always trying to maximise profits up to pushing working class to its biological limits. It will understand only power of the organised working class. The only way out of the crisis is a revolutionary change of the socio-economic system to socialism.
The current situation requires an organised struggle of the working class. However it is difficult because most of the working people are not organized and position of the trade unions is weakening. Main Polish trade unions are still unprepared to face the austerity measures and answer with class struggle. The failure to organise strike actions is the main evidence of their weakness. Capitalists and the authorities on the other hand are acting decidedly and have a clear vision of a system with privileges for the rich. Main trade unions OPZZ and “Solidarność” accept capitalism wanting only some corrections of the system. In response to government’s reforms trade unions have organized a mass demonstration in Warsaw but lack determination to start a general strike or even protests in some companies. It is still unclear whether there will be a general strike.
Not long ago Solidarność was supporting reforms deregulating labour law. Despite changes in the leadership it is still connected with conservative right wing. It is adapting to its anticommunist and anti-workers rhetoric. Trade unions are also unable to oppose anti trade union campaign by banks, corporations and authorities present in nearly all media, where representatives of the banks and capital are regarded as economic experts, talk about the methods of coming out of the crisis. This campaign is conducted by both conservative and liberal media, showing how much they have in common when it comes to defending capitalism.
Polish trade unions are also unprepared to face changes in the employment structure crisis causes. We have more temporary jobs but not many ideas how to organize temporary workers. In fact they are excluded from the standard legal protection and do not have real right to form trade unions. Just few attempts were made to change it, and various left wing groups are also participating in these attempts.
The role of the communist party nowadays is to analyse the situation and support class struggle, provide workers’ organizations with proposals on solving their problems. As a revolutionary we must not forget that only by rejecting the way of managing capitalist crisis we may liquidate it. We must study current situation to see threats and opportunities of struggle for socialism.