Zygmunta Cybulskiego

     Original Polish: Mr. CYBULSKI (Worker, Poland) A report has been given to the Conference on the principles of equal rights under the law and nondiscrimination of members of society. This seems to be a very old and well-known issue but unfortunately it is still of great importance today. The report tells us of the results of the fight against discrimination. We are made aware of discrimination on grounds of sex and on grounds of ethnic origin, and also discrimination on grounds of health. Allow me here to express our solidarity with the workers of Colombia. In the fight against discrimination the United Nations agencies, including the ILO, have a huge role to play and they have achieved some great successes.

You might think that in my country, where European Union standards are complied with, there are no such problems, but that is not the way things are. I can give you an example in Pepsi Cola, Poland. In the Secretary-General’s report we read about the role of professional organizations in the fight against discrimination. However, I regret to say that joining a union can be an obstacle to getting a job and can also be seen as an obstacle to recognition of services rendered and to promotion. The Minster of Education expressed this by discriminating against teachers who are members of a particular union. There is a tripartite committee for economic and social affairs in Poland and for a year and a half, it has not worked regularly. And yet the Government responsible seems quite unconcerned.

The Government implements no measures to help women who would like to have their children taken care of, there are no kindergartens, there is no daycare available. What is available is so expensive that the average Polish family cannot pay for it. Doctors have been on strike for some time, and teachers are intending to strike soon, and that points to the Government’s unwillingness to discuss the terms of our life together. It is not an important issue for them, any more than are the problems of families and living standards in society.

The Government attempted to intimidate the striking doctors with police monitoring and harassment. The police have been used to “discipline” those who have been striking, and they intervened brutally in a company in northern Poland ten days ago.

Productivity has gone up more than 40 per cent over recent years and wages have only gone up 7 per cent. If you look at the statistics you can see that 40 per cent of society is living below the poverty line. The Government’s rejection of social dialogue means that the social partners do not have any opportunity to engage in negotiations in order to solve problems in that context, although that is what society expects.

The problems of equal rights have a history of their own and there are many new developments there. What is, however, important is that the ILO achieve success. I hope that this current meeting of the ILO will be a milestone in the struggle for equal rights and for respect for the workers.