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Appeal for support of the Rydygier hospital

In the past few months, workers protests have risen in Poland. They mainly concern the negative effects of privatization and the worsening economic conditions in Poland. Last year, the threat of the liquidation of the Shipyard in Szczecin forced workers to take to the streets in Szczecin and Poznan. Miners from Upper Silesia are on strike alert. Recently, loud workers protests appeared in Ozarow near Warsaw. In Wroclaw you can observe a dramatic struggle for the survival of one of the main hospitals in the city.

The protest of the workers of the Rydygier Hospital has lasted since October 2001, when the local authorities decided to liquidate the facility. According to clerks, the hospital, employing a few hundred people, is out of date and not profitable. Despite the fact that this decision was revoked by Main Review Court (NSA), the workers haven't got salaries since September 2002. (Only recently they've got money for September and October.) The authorities once again threatened that they will liquidate the hospital. They don't care that Rydygier's problems are caused by the activities of the authorities and by the bad system of Medical Care. Nobody has criticised the quality of Rydygier's work.


From the beginning, the protest has arosen without any formal workers organisation, instead cooperating with local anarchist and squatters' groups. People established the Komitet Obrony Szpitala (Commitee to Defend the Hospital), which was made up of mainly women - doctors and nurses. Thanks to that (i.e. unformal structure) the workers expressed their protest in various interesting forms, among others:

* since the beginning of Novembver there is hunger strike;
* 20 workers have given up the Polish citizenship (they gave away their
* Rydygier asked for asylum in Holland and in Germany (By the way - this
funny action has been taken very seriously by the German consul, who offered
Rydygier workers jobs in Germany);
* workers walk down the streets in the center as beggars, collecting "money
for life" from the pedestrians;
* Rydygier organised a "funeral march for Medical Care".

15th of November, during the visit of the Polish and German presidents in Wroclaw, the workers made a blockade of one of the main streets in the city. Police took brutal action, beating and detaining people irrespective of age and sex. Many people, who just passed by, joined the demonstration and many of them were also beaten.

The demands for payment of the money and for retaining their jobs were transformed into more radical ones. The workers have begun to demand the maintenance of the hospital and general changes in the system of its managment. K.O.S. made their own project of restructurisation of the facility. It assumed - among others - liquidation of the institution of director (which is in fact delegated by the authorities) and establishing a council of representatives of sections. Such demands can't be really realised in the present system of Medical Care and it requires more general changes (which would require the next ones, etc.).

The authorities are unrelenting in negotiations with Rydygier. Now they are using some kind of blackmail: either Rydygier will allow the liquidation and a part of workers will get jobs somewhere else or authorities will lead the facility to bankruptcy. The members of K.O.S. were told that they will have problems finding jobs. K.O.S. is also hard and doesn't want even to listen about the liquidation. But - they have less and less power and they definitely need a trump card in negotiations.

Such a trump card would be the solidarity of other facilities. Unfortunately the authorities have a good strategy in this case: they told the workers from other hospitals (many of whom also have problems) that eg. "either we will pay salaries for Rydygier or some usual additional salary (the 13th) for you". Rydygier is presented as a "living corpse", as ballast for the Medical Care in Wroclaw. The other workers (from factories etc.) - despite a big campaign for solidarity with Rydygier - don't want to be really engaged in the case and even to publically express some support. The only support, which Rydygier got, comes from the hospital's neighbourhood, which is a poor and neglected district. Its inhabitants - among others - actively supported Rydygier during the brutal police action on 15th of November; children from the nearby school collected money for the striking people, neighbours took part in every demonstration by Rydygier.

As we mentioned above, since the middle of November local anarchist and squatters groups, actively participate in the portests and are helping K.O.S. in technical matters (eg. in a organistation of demonstrations) and also giving other support. Police tried to accuse anarchists of bringing out riots during blockade on 15th to excuse their brutal action. K.O.S. definitely interceded for the anarchists and their cooperation has developed since that time.

Now the protesting workers strongly need all the support they can get - also from foreign groups, organisations and trade unions. If you can organise some small demo near a Polish embassy or something like this (you can join this case with the case of Ozarow) - it would be great. But it is enough just to send a protest letter to the local authorities and Polish Prime Minister and - what is also important - a few warm words to the brave women from K.O.S. Below you can find the proper addresses and some links.

OZZ Inicjatywa Pracownicza
Komisja Krajowa

ul. Kościelna 4/1a, 60-538 Poznań
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REGON: 634611023
NIP: 779-22-38-665

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