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Polish wage strike at International Paper

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12 June, 2020Striking in demand of a monthly wage increase of 85 euros, workers at the International Paper (IP) Kwidzyn paper mill in Northern Poland started indefinite industrial action on 9 June.

The site’s workers are organized in three unions, with the largest being IndustriALL Global Union’s affiliate NSZZ Solidarność. Management had been put on notice for several weeks that the strike was coming.
Workers at the Kwidzyn site have been negotiating for a needed pay rise since October 2019. With management refusing to make a fair proposal, the IP employees entered into a collective dispute with them in January 2020.

The concrete demand is to increase the monthly basic wage at the worksite by 380 Polish Zloty (85 euros).

The collective decision of the IP Kwidzyn workers to take industrial action if necessary was adopted by worker ballot on 20 March, with 85 per cent backing the strike.

Despite management being given the legal advanced notification of the strike, they did not take necessary measures to maintain safe production during the industrial action. Therefore, strikers have limited their plan to completely walk off the job, and are working enough to keep the site’s main operations running.

This lack of preparation for the strike by management is interpreted by the workers’ strike committee to be a conscious effort to enable punishment for strikers.

IndustriALL pulp and paper sector director Tom Grinter says:

“We stand by the members of our affiliated union NSZZ Solidarność in their demand for an 85 euros monthly pay increase. They have already accepted to drop their demand from 415 to 380 Polish Zloty. Now we expect IP management to accept the fair demand so that the site can return to full production.”

The three unions at the site are the Inter-Enterprise Trade Union of NSZZ Solidarność, the Inter-Enterprise Trade Union of Employees of IP Kwidzyn, and the Union of Engineers and Technicians of IP Kwidzyn.
International Paper is a US-based multinational that is organized by IndustriALL affiliates in several countries.

An IndustriALL union network is established at the company, chaired by the United Steelworkers. IndustriALL affiliates represent IP workers in Brazil, Chile, France, India, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Turkey, other European countries, and the USA.