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Amazon fires a protected Inicjatywa Pracownicza shop steward. Make Amazon pay for it!

Amazon fires a protected Inicjatywa Pracownicza shop steward. Make Amazon pay for it!

On November 9, 2021 Amazon Poland gave a dismissal notice to Magda Malinowska, who has worked for 6 years at its warehouse in Sady near Poznan. Magda is a protected union representative and member of the Inicjatywa Pracownicza union, as well as an elected healthy and safety inspector. She is a long-time Inicjatywa Pracownicza activist, maker of documentaries on the labor movement, and is a co-founder of Amazon Workers International.

[POLISH]

Amazon cites alleged "filming or photographing the action of moving a corpse" as the formal reason for the dismissal. This is presumably about a man who died inside the warehouse on September 6, 2021. An ongoing legal case is investigating whether negligence on the part of the company contributed to this. The allegation against the trade unionist is completely unfounded. Magda Malinowska as a recognised health and safety inspector was concerned about the proper steps being taken after the workmate's death. For this reason, she asked Amazon to be included in the post-accident team but was turned down. She had no interest in filming or photographing any corpse, but she wanted to monitor the steps taken by the employer in case of irregularities.

A few days after the tragedy, Magda Malinowska, in an interview with Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper, pointed out how the organization of work at Amazon can lead to a loss of employee's health or even life and why, according to the union, the event at the beginning of September should be considered a workplace accident: "Management likes to talk about an 'unpleasant random event' when in fact there have been two deaths of our employees in a short period of time. These are not random events; they are a result of the way things are done here. If the company policy had been different, the deaths might not have happened". The journalist authoring the article drew attention to the comments and irregularities reported by Amazon employees and the unions: excessive workloads, working beyond one's capacity, and fear of losing your job if you go on sick leave.

The dismissal is all the more scandalous because it was carried out against the objections, put in writing, by the trade union, which did not agree with it. According to us, Amazon grossly violated the provisions of both the Trade Unions Act (Article 32, Section 1) and the Social Labour Inspection Act (Article 13, Section 1). We are forced to interpret Amazon's actions as demonstrating gross incompetence of human resources services or as a conscious attempt to obstruct union activities (including health and safety inspection). We will take the case to court where we are demanding the immediate reinstatement of Magda Malinowska as well as financial compensation for unfair and unlawful dismissal.

We believe that the disciplinary action against Magda Malinowska is an escalation of Amazon's anti-union practices of recent months. Amazon has refused to allow trade unionists to perform health and safety audits, it has obstructed them from using their union hours, and unilaterally changed the provisions of the company's labor regulations, disregarding the views of the two organizations active at the company, Inicjatywa Pracownicza and Solidarność, neither of whom have agreed to recent changes affecting workers. Under Polish labor law, employers are not allowed to change these regulations without the unions' consent. In addition, union activists are regularly called upon to submit written explanations for alleged violations of Amazon's policies. It seems the company is chalking up "infractions" on union activists to use these against them.

Does Amazon intend to further escalate its repression of unionists in an effort to eliminate labor organizations? Since 2014, unions have helped employees win a number of lawsuits brought against the company, improve the company's health and safety practices, and, most importantly, block many anti-worker measures that Amazon has tried to introduce. Last summer, health and safety inspectors ordered Amazon to redo its energy-usage study. The reason for this was the results of tests previously conducted by the national labor inspection board, which showed that some company departments used three times more energy than the legal maximums. Amazon challenged the results in court and rejected the request for a retest. The unions are demanding that the lives and health of workers not be put at risk in the name of increasing profits. Is this why Amazon has decided to aggressively tighten its anti-union policy?

We demand reinstatement of Magda Malinowska! We demand an end to Amazon's anti-union campaign! Echoing the slogan of the international coalition "Make Amazon Pay", Inicjatywa Pracownicza declares: Amazon - you will pay for it!

Inicjatywa Pracownicza at Amazon Fulfillment Poland
November 15, 2021.

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