Union official dismissed in Goplana pay dispute

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Following the sale by Nestlé of the Polish confectionery company, Goplana, to Jutrzenka SA, in November 2005 the new owners announced plans to cut the wages of the Goplana workforce. In the subsequent conflict, the president of the Goplana NSZZ Solidarność trade union section was controversially dismissed.

The process of privatization of the Goplana confectionery company, based in Poznan, began in 1994, when the firm was taken over by Nestlé which, in turn, towards the end of 2004 sold Goplana to another producer of confectionery - Bydgoszcz Jutrzenka SA. The Goplana employees welcomed the news quite warmly as they had feared that Nestlé Polska would set out to close down production in Poznan.

However, the decisions taken by the new owner of Goplana have met with little support from its employees: in order to equalize wages in its plants, the management board of Jutrzenka SA decided in November 2005 to decrease the wages of the workers at the Goplana plant in Poznan. In consequence, hitherto binding employment contracts had to be terminated. The board’s proposal envisaged a reduction of average wages currently ranging between PLN 11 and PLN 14 per hour to a maximum of PLN 11.

This plan met with strong criticism from the Independent and Self-Governing Trade Union Solidarity (Niezależny Samorządny Związek Zawodowy Solidarność, NSZZ Solidarność). On 19 December 2005, in an interview with Gazeta Wyborcza, the president of the company's NSZZ Solidarność section, Dariusz Skrzypczak, openly criticised the board’s strategy aimed at the equalization of wages. According to him, the leveling of wages could just as well be achieved by increasing the salaries of the Bydgoszcz plant workers.

The abovementioned interview with Gazeta Wyborcza was cited as the official grounds for the dismissal of Mr Skrzypczak. Notice to terminate his employment contract with immediate effect was given to the union official on 29 December 2005. The grounds for the dismissal was the content of the interview, which - according to the manager of the Poznan plant - contained false information about the actions leading to the equalisation of wages. Moreover, the NSZZ Solidarność branch president was accused of a disclosure of confidential information on pay levels, thereby infringing the employer’s interests and acting to the detriment of the whole company and its market image.

Mr Skrzypczak was dismissed despite the fact that the management board of his trade union expressed objections. Officials of both NSZZ Solidarność and other unions strongly criticized the way the conflict had been resolved. Some of them (eg Bogdan Klepas, the president of the Wielkopolska NSZZ Solidarność branch) even claimed that 'the main goal of the employer’s actions was to intimidate unionists'.

It is hard to foresee how the wages conflict in Goplana will end. However, so far that the management board of Jutrzenka SA has been able to force through its proposals irrespective of trade union opinions

This information is made available through the European Industrial Relations Observatory (EIRO), as a service to users of the EIROnline database. EIRO is a project of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. However, this information has been neither edited nor approved by the Foundation, which means that it is not responsible for its content and accuracy. This is the responsibility of the EIRO national centre that originated/provided the information. For details see the "About this record" information in this record.

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