George Soros’ Open Society Foundation unmasked in a major leak 22:31 Aug 24 1 comments
Shell in court over major Corrib gas refinery flaring events. 23:32 Jul 28 0 comments
Eddie Hobbs: Largest act of larceny against Irish people 23:22 Jun 02 0 comments
CHASE Fundraising Events Calendar for June 23:10 Jun 01 0 comments
Threat To Fishing Communities is Laid Starkly Bare in New Film - Atlantic 20:04 Apr 10 0 commentsmore >>
Joined up thinking for the Irish Left
Rebuilding Ireland: Long on Promise, Short on Detail Mon Aug 29, 2016 22:20 | Eoin O'Mahony
Brexit and Other Issues: Comments on the Current Situation Mon Aug 29, 2016 21:52 | Brendan Young
Bin Charges: From Private Circus to Public Service Tue Jun 21, 2016 12:38 | Michael Taft
Beyond Grexit & Brexit, Advocating an Irish and a British role in solving Europe... Tue Jun 21, 2016 12:18 | Tony Phillips
Hardship never lasts forever? Wed May 04, 2016 15:50 | Raymond Deane
Electoralism vs Abstentionism (Or: Why You Should Run For Office) Fri Aug 26, 2016 17:07 | Slyvia Smith
Centrism extremism: how horseshoe-politics silences brutality Sat Jul 02, 2016 18:25 | yeksmesh
Of Tankies, Trots and Social Democrats Thu May 12, 2016 23:41 | Gavin Mendel-Gleason
Avatars of the Advanced-Capitalist Psyche â€“ Capitain America: Civil War Mon May 09, 2016 00:07 | Gavin Mendel-Gleason
Wailings about Left Unity Sat Feb 13, 2016 01:13 | James O'Brien
Interested in maladministration. Estd. 2005
Gardai and unicorns on the M50 Anthony
Farewell from NWL Sun May 19, 2013 14:00 | namawinelake
Happy 70th Birthday, Michael Sun May 19, 2013 14:00 | namawinelake
Of the Week? Sat May 18, 2013 00:02 | namawinelake
Noonan denies IBRC legal fees loan approval to Paddy McKillen was in breach of E... Fri May 17, 2013 14:23 | namawinelake
Gayle Killilea Dunne asks to be added as notice party in Sean Dunne?s bankruptcy Fri May 17, 2013 12:30 | namawinelake
Defend the right to form a Trade Union!
international | worker & community struggles and protests | feature Sunday June 29, 2008 18:30 by Jack White - WSM wsm_ireland at yahoo dot com
This Friday, the 4th of July marks the start of a week of actions against Lionbridge, a multinational translation and software development company in support of the right of workers to organise in trade unions.
The allegation was a lie and the information referred to is long in the public domain. It was certainly not confidential, in fact even the Irish Independent has written about it.
How did the company find out about it?
We made no secret of it - the existence of the union was announced publicly as soon as it was registered. We did not disclose the full membership of the union, which at first was over 15% of the 300 people employed in the Warsaw office.
The company made attempts to find out the full list of membership - which legally it is only allowed to do in case mass layoffs are planned. We knew there were no legal grounds for this request and we kept the membership secret, with the exception of elected trade-union representatives which are protected by the Labour Code. We expected problems, but we hoped the company would respect the Labor Code.
How did they react?
The first reactions were fairly typical. It started with comments about how "trade-unions are a threat to the competitiveness of a company", how "the US based headquarters of the company would decide to move production to non-unionised countries like China and India" and how "the Polish subsidiary would lose jobs because the trade-union was formed". The bosses made it sound like the trade-union is the worst thing that could happen to workers. That's not surprising to hear this type of statements from capitalists who benefit from other people's low wages - but it's sad to hear workers pick up this sort of thinking.
What did the company claim the reason for firing you was?
Of course they didn't say that I'm being fired because I am a trade-union organizer. The Polish Labour Code tries to protect elected union officials from being dismissed. They had to find other reasons. What they did, is actually common practice in Poland nowadays. They used the pretext that was used in dozens of other cases of dismissed union-members in Poland - the alleged disclosing of secret company information. Irish readers might not realize, but workers in Poland are not expected to speak about their salaries or working conditions with other workers or - god forbid - the press. This type of information is considered as an asset of the company that safeguards its competitiveness. Needless to say that workers bargaining power is hampered by this type of secrecy. And this is exactly what the bosses want. Coming back to the pretext used against me - I was accused of publishing an article that allegedly disclosed "secrets" and at the same time "untrue" information (how some piece of information can be at the same time "secret", presumably stolen and "untrue", presumably fabricated is beyond me). It was also argued that the article could damage the share price of the company, and nothing short of causing panic on the Wall Street. The fact that the company's shares kept falling steadily since the new Lionbridge management took control, after the acquisition of Bowne Global Solutions, did not matter. The low performance of the stock could not have been the effect of, say, the mismanagement of the company, could it? The fact that another person admitted having written the article did not matter either. It didn't even matter that the information contained in the article in question has been published months before by the mainstream press, including The Independent in Ireland, the Polish newspaper "Gazeta Wyborcza" and many other publications, including the Lionbridge website itself!.
What was the reaction of your collegues?
Management got what they wanted, at least for a while - my colleagues understood that unions are a scary business and preferred to step back and wait to see what will happen next. Even symbolic solidarity gestures, such as sending a protest letter to the management were harshly criticised as being "disloyal" and workers got a clear signal that any action on their part would mean them getting in trouble. At the same time, the management also offered them bonuses that seemed impossible to obtain just a few months before. All this combined ensured that the managers slowed down the development of a real workers representation in the workplace.
What is happening with your case now?
The first court hearing will take place on July 4th. This is the day a picket will be organized in front of different Lionbridge offices, including Dublin. The legal case I have filed against Lionbridge is fairly strong - in essence public information available on the internet for everyone to read cannot be treated as a secret. The company's lawyers must be aware of that if they are worth the money Lionbridge is paying them. It is usual that the Polish Labour Courts re-instate trade-union members dismissed from their workplaces.
However, it does not mean that the case will be over soon, as the company has a lot of money to spend on expensive lawyers and appeals.
Can you tell us about the demonstrations being organised in other countries?
Yes, demonstrations are planned in Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Denmark, Germany and the USA. We are trying to work with different networks and organizations concerned about workers rights and social justice, such as the International Workers' Association, Workers Solidarity Movement, Industrial Workers of the World and others...
What do you hope they will achieve?
It is quite probable that Lionbridge will be forced to undo their illegal dismissal and forced to show more consideration for basic workers rights in the future. I also hope that more self-organization amongst workers in Lionbridge will emerge as a result of the publicity around this case. This would be an unexpected outcome for the corporate managers who maybe hoped to crush the union movement once and for all.
There will be a picket placed on the office of Lionbridge in Dun Laoghaire on Friday the 4th of June from 1 to 2.
If you can make it along your support would be appreciated. The office is located at:
3 West Pier Business Campus
If you cannot make it out please consider contacting Lionbridge to let them know that you support Jakub and the right of workers to organise in Trade Unions:
Tel: 01 202 1200
Send a copy of the e-mail to the union: firstname.lastname@example.org