Polish Coal Miners Strike over Planned Job Cuts

From Telesur

Strikes continued in Poland Wednesday as miners protested government plans to close four state-owned coal mines.

The center-right coalition government led by the Citizen’s Platform, with newly-elected Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz, is attempting a radical shakeup of the mining industry, which it says is losing money in an ailing market.

The standoff involving miners in 12 sites undertaking underground occupations, the hunger strikes, and railway blocks extended after negotiations between the government and strikers broke down Monday.

The head of the trade union confederation Solidarnosc, Piotr Duda, has said that if an agreement is not met with the trade unionists by Tuesday the miners would be joined on strike by workers from the railways and energy sector.

“We will give the government one more chance, although we cannot wait long. This is a matter concerning all workers. Today it is miners, tomorrow railway workers and the next day it will be energy sector workers,” he said.

The planned closures will lose 5,000 jobs and cost the government US$636 million.

Around 90 percent of Poland’s energy generation is made up by coal, although increasingly this is being bought cheaply from Russia.

State-owned Kompania Weglowa, the largest hard coal mine in Europe with 50,000 workers, lost US$194 million in 2013.

The Police Were Created to Control Working Class and Poor People, Not ‘Serve and Protect’

From In These Times

In most of the liberal discussions of the recent police killings of unarmed black men, there is an underlying assumption that the police are supposed to protect and serve the population. That is, after all, what they were created to do.

If only the normal, decent relations between the police and the community could be re-established, this problem could be resolved. Poor people in general are more likely to be the victims of crime than anyone else, this reasoning goes, and in that way, they are in more need than anyone else of police protection. Maybe there are a few bad apples, but if only the police weren’t so racist, or didn’t carry out policies like stop-and-frisk, or weren’t so afraid of black people, or shot fewer unarmed men, they could function as a useful service that we all need.

This liberal way of viewing the problem rests on a misunderstanding of the origins of the police and what they were created to do.


12,000 Walmart Workers In Chile Strike For Better Wages

From Making Change at Walmart

The “Walmart Economy” isn’t just hurting America – the multi-billion dollar corporation’s impact extends globally.

The Waltons, owners of Walmart, are the richest family in America, worth more than $150 billion. That’s equal to the wealth of 43% of American families combined. Yet many workers at Walmart stores, warehouses, and suppliers around the world face low pay or unacceptable working conditions. From California to Bangladesh, Mexico to South Africa, many workers at one of the wealthiest retailers in the world struggle to make ends meet.

Chilean communities have had enough. Starting Thursday, some 12,000 Walmart Chile (Lider) workers went on a nationwide strike demanding better wages. It’s reported that approximately 70 store locations are struggling to operate. In the Maipu & Concepcion comunas (or counties), all Walmart supermarkets are completely shut down.


Workers are on strike because the company has not responded to its request for salary increases. Manuel Diaz , president of the Federation of Walmart Chile, said workers are asking for a raise. Chilean Workers have also been picketing and calling on customers not to buy from the corporation’s supermarkets.

Diaz said the response from Chilean communities has been supportive, even during the busy holiday season, and that protests will continue as workers wait through the negotiation process.

In a public statement, Walmart Chile said it regrets the decision by workers to strike, and that the company is confident they will reconcile the demands of workers with what the company is able to offer.

This is not the first sign of labor unrest in Walmart stores abroad. Just this year, Walmart workers in over ten countries stood in solidarity with American Walmart workers, calling for decent pay and decent work. The “Global Day for Decent Work at Walmart” saw actions in the United States, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, India, Canada, Argentina, and Chile. In the past two years, Chinese Walmart workers have protested issues ranging from store closings, retaliation against workers who speak out, and cuts to worker benefits.

Last month, Walmart workers and community supporters held events or strikes in over 1600 stores across America, protesting how Walmart bullies workers that speak out about issues like fair pay.

French Workers Call for Strike against Amazon

From RFI

From Monday, workers at four warehouse sites throughout France could down their tools just days before Christmas, when Amazon is at its busiest time.

Barbed wire in front of the Amazon logistics centre in Graben, Germany

Barbed wire in front of the Amazon logistics centre in Graben, Germany. Reuters/Michaela Rehle

Amazon claims that this strike won’t affect their business.

Sebastien Boisonnet, a CGT delegate who called the strike, says industrial action will have a major impact on the US company’s deliveries and will damage Amazon’s reputation that one click online will send a package to your door.

Amazon strikers in Germany went on strike last week which caused the brand to send more of its orders to France to fill.

Boisonnet says that the strike is not to upset customers or to block the trucks delivering Christmas parcels, but for Amazon to pay attention to worker claims.

CGT is calling on Amazon to open negotiations on work conditions and salaries.

40% of Amazon’s staff are members of the CGT union, the first union to organize workers in the company. But there are fewer card-carrying union members in Northern France.

Amazon staff in Germany extend strike to Christmas Eve


Amazon staff at three German warehouses will extend their strike until Christmas Eve to increase pressure on the online retailer in a long-running dispute over pay and conditions, labour union Verdi said on Friday.

Verdi also filed a lawsuit against a decision by regional authorities to allow Amazon staff in two German cities to work this Sunday as the mail-order group steps up efforts to deliver orders to customers before the Christmas holiday.

Industrial action this week had already been extended until Saturday in four of Amazon’s nine distribution centres in Germany and until Dec. 24 at one warehouse.

More than 2,400 workers took part in walkouts on Friday, Verdi said.

The union has organised frequent strikes at Amazon in Germany since May 2013 as it seeks to force the retailer to raise pay for warehouse workers in accordance with collective bargaining agreements across Germany’s mail order and retail industry.

Verdi said that the lawsuit filed against Amazon meant that the authorities’ approval of the group putting its employees to work this Sunday was effectively void.

“As the Federal Administrative Court only recently stated, work on Sunday has to be reserved for strictly exceptional cases, which we do not see in the case of Amazon,” Verdi board member Stefanie Nutzenberger said in an e-mailed statement.

Amazon, which was not immediately available for comment, has repeatedly rejected the union’s demands, saying it regards warehouse staff as logistics workers and that they receive above-average pay by the standards of that industry.

The U.S. company employs almost 10,000 regular staff at its warehouses in Germany, its second-biggest market behind the United States, as well as more than 10,000 seasonal workers. It can also draw on 19 other warehouses across Europe.

Amazon said on Wednesday that its deliveries had not been delayed by industrial action so far and that it had even extended to midday on Dec. 22 the order deadline for gifts to reach customers in time for Dec. 24 by normal delivery.