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POLAND’S RETAIL SECTOR HAS BEEN THE SCENE of many industrial disputes in recent years. The continuing Europe-wide campaign against unfair practices at U.S. online giant Amazon (see issue 68) has surfaced in the East as the company has tried to move jobs to lower-paid countries. Now the Polish supermarket chain Biedronka has joined the roll of shame with the Solidarity union drawing attention to union-unfriendly tactics at the Portuguese-owned firm by holding protests outside their shops and the office of the Prime Minister. As at Amazon, management refuses to talk to union representatives: ‘We have repeatedly stressed and emphasised our wish for dialogue in order to develop joint solutions with the employer, but they refuse to recognise us’ said Grzegorz Cison, chair of the Wroclaw Amazon branch.
THE ONLINE TAXI COMPANY UBER, which uses a web app to book cabs, has sparked demonstrations and government bans across Europe but now in France a new trade union has been formed to pursue the interests of the drivers. The SCP-VTC which is linked to the independent union federation UNSA, will try to solve problems such as the employment status of drivers who Uber regards as ‘partners’ rather than employees. The Secretary General of the new union, Sayah Baaroun, is a former restaurant worker and crane operator who had to pay €1,200 to the company for training and now earns €2,000 per month working 60-70 hours a week.
ROMANIAN TRADE UNIONS HAVE HAD TO ENDURE the sharpest fall in collective bargaining since the financial crash according to International Labour Organisation (ILO) figures. The number of workers covered by agreements fell by 60% compared to an average decline of 4.6% among 50 ILO-monitored countries. Now unions have succeeded in persuading the government to bring forward a measure that should help to reverse this trend. The amendment to the Social Dialogue Act allows trade union federations to negotiate with managements of companies where a union exists but does not have suffficient membership density to qualify as ‘representative’.
A DEAL BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT AND Civil Service trade unions in Italy should presage pay rises according to union leaders. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s administration has reached agreement on reducing the number of departments in the service from eleven to four: central functions, local functions, health, and education and research. Leaders Susanna Camusso, Annamaria Furlan and Carmelo Barbagallo, of the CGIL, CISL and UIL federations respectively, said that Renzi had ‘no more alibis’ to prevent a new contract being negotiated for public sector workers. Since the last one in 2010 they have effectively endured a pay freeze which was found to be illegal by