A year of „yellow cards” – what has our initiative shown?

Żółte kartki logoIt has been a year since we teamed up with the NSZZ „Solidarność” trade union to intervene with public authorities forgetting about social clauses in their tenders.

Haw can we sum up our work so far? Are there any trends visible in the last 12 months? What type of pro-worker ideas are easier to implement in procurement than others?

Three negative tendencies could be observed:

- Lack of guarantees for employing people responsible for executing the tenders according to the Labour Code.

- Employing only part of workers on job contracts.

- Chosing companies offering hourly rates that may not suffice to pay the minimum wage.

In the last of the case mentioned the resistance of public institutions regarding saying that our doubts are legitimate was much more visible than earlier. This resistance often was also streched to other issues that we were asking for, which just a few months ago (ie. regarding job contracts):

a) Authorities argue that in the documentation of the tender they wrote down requirements regarding authomatic wage rises in cases of the rise in minimum wage or social security contributions.

b) Procurers also note that employers hiring people with disabilities may have access to financing from the National Fund for Rehabilitation of Disabled People (PFRON) or other legal character that means that the rates calculated by NSZZ „Solidarność” and the Federation of Polish Employers as necessary to pay minimal wages may not be correct in such cases.

c) The lack of reqirements regarding hiring on job contracts are being couterd by the argument that the employment in the companies that won the tender already takes on this form.

d) Promises regarding using the calculator of minimal wage costs are often coined with arguing that the law prohibits from discarding tender offers that may have low rates that nontheless are not „grossly lower” that their competitors.

e) Monitored institutons declare that they are abiding by the law. They sometimes argue that more strict social clauses are for tenders of higher value than the ones they are offering. If a clause has a voluntary – and not obligatory – character it is being treated as something additional – and discarded.

This does not mean we did not acchieve any success:

- The most spectacular one was guaranteeing job contracts for people involved in construction works at the Adam Mickiewicz Univerity (UAM) in Poznań after collecting – thanks to cooperation with the Akcja Demokracja NGO – almost 1,500 declarations of support.

- We also gathered almost 2,300 signatures under the appeal for safe and decent wages and working conditions for people guarding an antique farm in Opole – the case was widely discussed in the media.

- Our intervention regarding low hourly wages in a branch of the national insurance company (ZUS) resulted in the reaction of its chair, Gertruda Uścińska.