Strike threat from thousands social services workers

Poland’s 40,000 social services workers are preparing industrial action in June over pay and care policies, according to Rzeczpospolita daily.

Social work staff are to demand a raise in pay. At present they earn an average wage of just over PLN 1,900 (EUR 440) to the same levels that local government workers receive. They will also be demanding a change in policy in order to enable them to provide care which would help prevent abuse in risk families rather than concentrating on reactive action.

The Union’s aim now is to bring this to the fore by blocking payments of child benefits. If preparations for the strike are in place, as ballots are required, the social work department action would coincide with a peak in the administrative workload of the department: the processing of applications for universal child benefit in June and July this year.

Up until this year the departments have received 5 million applications from families. This is likely to increase by a further 2 million, as the benefit has been extended and means testing ended.

According to Paweł Mączyński of the Union Federation of Social Workers and Care Workers, their previous protests have brought negligible results. They staged a black protest, when the workers came dressed in black, and they also staged a blood donation protest under the banner of “Social workers are bleeding.”

The half hour of meetings at the Family Ministry that they gained as a result were merely placatory, with promises of proposals only in the autumn, just before the elections, which might mean they would not be dealt with at all.

Other demands include better holiday allowances and improved safety at work procedures, as there are currently around 100 attacks on social workers per year.