Care Workers Fight Back in Poland
2020 is ending with a victory for care workers in Poland. Following an inhuman COVID19-induced lockdown at Konstancin-Jeziorna nursing home that forced 19 care workers to work long shifts without the possibility of going home, UNI Global Union´s affiliate OPZZ Konfederacja Pracy launched an organising campaign driven by an all-female workforce that delivered relief within days.
“What's most important in this victory is to finally go home after a 10 days shift and a lockdown without proper living conditions. We managed to organise during such a hard time and as union we fought and won to be paid for our efforts,” said Joanna care worker and union representative in Konstancin-Jeziorna nursing home.
Poland, like most European countries, is facing difficulties managing the COVID19 crisis and preventing the virus from spreading in nursing homes across the country where the impact can be devastating, as we saw during the first wave of the pandemic. But after an outbreak was reported in the Konstancin-Jeziorna nursing home early in December, management forced care workers to stay put inside the facilities rather than offering solutions that would keep workers and patients safe. As a result, several workers have been infected and multiple workers report being forced to work long hours without adequate personal protective equipment.
“We didn’t have a proper rest, we worked almost 24 hours for 10 days. We slept in a therapy room on provisional mattresses, there was several of us in one room. We didn’t have access to proper bathrooms. We didn’t have professional PPE to work with COVID19 patients. I slept maybe 3-4 hours per day,” said Małgorzata care worker in Konstancin-Jeziorna nursing home.
“We had to stand up and fight. Not only our labour rights were violated but also our human rights too. We knew that without standing together and put our demands nothing would change. We are not slaves, we are workers,” said Barbara, union representative.
“Konfederacja Pracy is leading the way, fighting back against unsafe and absurd measures that keep workers and patients at risk. We are proud to support such a visiorary union,” said Adrian Dutschi Head of UNI Global Union´s care division.