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Shots fired against striking miners in Poland

17 February, 2015Police in Poland have used firearms against striking miners, injuring more than 20 people. The violent clashes occurred as protestors demanded the immediate resignation of the CEO of Poland’s largest coking coal producer Jastrzebska Spolka Weglowa (JSW).

On 2 and 9 February, more than 20 people were injured when police shot at the protesting miners. The unions are still demanding an explanation to the use of weapons against unarmed workers.

On 26 January, JSW’s CEO Jaroslaw Zagorowski tried to sack ten unionists for solidarity protests with miners at other operations in Poland. This arrogance triggered widespread protests at JSW’s mine in Jastrzebie. After company management terminated three collective agreements and announced a savings plan, unions voted to go in strike on 28 January.

Unions at the mining plant are demanding Zagorowski’s resignation, who they say is responsible for the breakdown of dialogue between management and workers. They also demanded that the decision to terminate the three collective agreements be withdrawn, and that the same rules of employment apply at all of JSW’s mines.

With the assistance of a mediator, talks between trade unions and management have been continuing and an agreement has been reached on the program of savings. The strike was suspended on 13 February and three days later CEO Jaroslaw Zagorowski resigned. However, the supervisory board of the company must formally accept the resignation.

Glen Mpufane, Director of Mining at IndustriALL Global Union, underlines the organization’s support to the striking miners:

This level of violence and disrespect of workers’ rights is unacceptable. We urge the employer to listen to the union’s demands and find a solution.