Vol 1, No 9, 23 August 1999
C E N T R A L E U R O P E A
N N E W S:
Last Week in Poland
News from Poland since 14 August 1999
Compiled by Joanna Rohozinska and Donosy-English
Several hundred former employees of Huta Warszawa have filed actions in Warsaw District Court for PLN 10,000 each, plus interest. The employees claim they have the right to subscribe for stock in Agencja Kapitalowo-Rozliczeniowa S.A. according to the Act on the Privatisation and Commercialisation of State Enterprises of 1997. Agencja Kapitalowo-Rozliczeniowa S.A. has been profitable since December and the former employees want what is due to them.
The discovery of a piece of wall in Poznan dating from the 10th century reopens the question of the birthplace of the Polish state. The Poznan find has prompted a complete reassessment among archaeologists and historians as to whether the first capital of Poland was in Poznan or in Gniezno, as is taught in school. The archaeological team, headed by Prof. Hanna Koska-Krenz, found in late July a large fragment of the foundations while excavating on Poznan's Ostrow Tumski, the oldest part of the city.
The management of the Television Information Agency (TAI) maintains that Marian Zalewski, a member of the management board at state television company Telewizja Polska S.A. (TVP) and a devoted member of the Polish Peasant Party (PSL), exerts pressure on television journalists to promote his party. The programming director of TAI, Jacek Maziarski, admits that both he and director Jacek Snopkiewicz have warned the management board of "Panorama" and other news programmes to avoid all kinds of activity supporting an individual political party. According to Rzeczpospolita, PSL politicians have recently appeared in information programmes more often than representatives of the ruling Solidarity Elections Action (AWS) and the Freedom Union (UW) coalition parties.
Poland's Przystanek Woodstock (Destination Woodstock) is proving to be the largest massive rock gathering worldwide this year, attracting more than 250,000 fans. According to its organizer, Jerzy Owsiak, the extensive debate over whether the event would materialize at all served as a kind of advertising campaign. "The event was extremely peaceful, though the fears after the American event signaled something different," says Barbara Zarzycka, spokeswoman for the province's police headquarters, which had beefed up police presence by 40 percent over last year. "It all ended up calm and quiet," Zarzycka said. "We cooperated brilliantly with Jurek Owsiak's peace patrols."
East European Kolia System Financial Consultants (EEKSFC) in Warsaw bought an 81 percent stake in the railway firm Viafer from state-owned Polish State Railways (PKP).
Consumer prices fell 0.3 percent in July annual inflation rate fell to 6.3 percent from 6.5 percent in June, the Central Statistical Office (GUS) said. Meanwhile the budget deficit reached 12.46 billion zlotys in July, or 97.2 percent of the whole budget gap for 1999, the finance ministry said on Monday. According to Prawo i Gospodarka unpaid taxes totalled 716.9 million zlotys in the first quarter, 38 percent more than in the same period last year.
The Central Statistical Office (GUS) reported that industrial production in July fell by 1.9 percent in relation to June. Even though industrial production in July was up 1.9 percent on July 1998. A comparison of the first seven months of 1999 with the same period the previous year reveals that industrial production fell by 0.6 percent. According to specialists, it is likely that GDP will rise only by 3 percent this year, instead of the 4 percent forecasted.
Seeking to limit employment on Sundays and holidays, a group of Sejm deputies are proposing an amendment to the national labor code. Article 138 of the Polish labor code states that Sundays and holidays are work-free days. However, Article 139 allows for Sunday employment in cases where the particular job is "indispensable to the general well-being of the public." Arguing that it is too easy for employers to get around such wording and the exemption, some deputies have proposed that on Sundays and holidays trade be limited to convenience stores. With the loss of one working day on their weekly business schedule, owners of supermarkets and hypermarkets would have to dismiss a significant number of employees to cover their losses.
Apparently expressed optimism regarding an end in sight to the ongoing labour problems a little early last week as coal miners threatened to stage a two-hour warning strike on 30 August to protest against government reforms of the loss-making industry. Head of the Kontra union Jerzy Kulisz told Reuters that the strike is to be organised by 12 mining trade unions, excluding the Solidarity union which backs the centre-right government of Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek. He went on to state that the protest was aimed at stopping proposed changes to the mining reform programme which is anticipated to speed up closures of unprofitable pits and hasten dismissals of miners.
Problems were not limited to those underground as agricultural workers, members of the group 'Self-Defence' (Samoobrona) set up road blockades throughout the Warminsko-Mazurskie Voivodship. The workers were protesting, among other things, the allegedly poor government-run grain purchase system in the regio. Police used water cannons and tear to clear road 51 and were then attacked by by-standers who pelted the police with bricks and stones. Nine were arrestested and sunsequently released. Mieczyslaw Aszkielowicz, leader of the Warminsk-Mazur chapter told reporters to expect similar protest actions to continue until their grievances are satisfied.
Compiled by Joanna Rohozinska and Donosy-English, 20 August 1999
Donosy's Week in Poland appears in Central Europe Review with the
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