Deloitte: Poland enters the phase of economic expansion

The divergence of economic moods in Poland...

Two Years On: War in Ukraine and Its Global Impact

On February 24, 2022, a full-scale Russian...

PKP Cargo Wage Dispute Still Unresolved, Strike Looms. Similar Scenario Possible at Other Companies in March

TSLPKP Cargo Wage Dispute Still Unresolved, Strike Looms. Similar Scenario Possible at Other Companies in March

“We are in the mediation stage, but it is not moving towards resolving the wage dispute. We are also after a warning strike, which the management seems to have not taken very seriously,” says Leszek Miętek, president of the Union of Railway Engine Drivers in Poland. This is one of the trade union organizations that has been in a collective dispute with the employer, PKP Cargo, since mid-December of last year, demanding pay rises. Currently, a referendum is being conducted within the company that will last until February 19, and it may end with a general strike. As an expert emphasizes, a similar scenario could occur in the Warmian-Masurian voivodeship at the Polregio company at the beginning of March.

“We have high inflation in Poland and wage claims occur in various railway companies, an example of which is also a recent strike at WKD, which ended with an agreement. Unfortunately, we had to resort to the most difficult weapon for our customers, the strike, because it is a fight for an appropriate salary level,” says Leszek Miętek.

He points out that according to data from two years ago, the market wage of an engine driver, or their market value, is at the level of PLN 14 thousand, while the average wage of an engine driver amounts to 7-8 thousand PLN.

“We have such a gap here and these wage claims are constantly appearing in various companies. At the moment, we also have a strike threat in the Warmian-Masurian voivodeship, in Polregio, because the management cannot obtain a correction of the business plan related to pay rises and announced the withdrawal of pay rises implemented in 2023. We cannot agree to this, and therefore a statement went to the management that if this happens on March 1, we will announce a strike in this voivodeship,” warns the president of the Union of Railway Engine Drivers in Poland.

The situation in PKP Cargo is related to union demands for the implementation of pay raises from October 1 of last year. At the beginning of December, the public company announced that it had managed to sign an agreement with the three largest trade unions – NSZZ Solidarność, Federation of ZZ Kolejarzy and Solidarność 80 – gathering over 50% of the crew. It involves introducing systemic increases (an average of PLN 420 per employee) from January 1, which was confirmed by a resolution from the beginning of this month.

However, eight other unions, including the Union of Engine Drivers, which first organized a protest at the company’s headquarters and in mid-December initiated a collective dispute with the employer, did not agree to these terms. To this day, the parties have not reached an agreement, and negotiations ended on January 10 with a divergence protocol outlining their positions.

“Currently, a referendum is being held in the company, which – if the employees vote for it – in the situation of non-fulfillment of our wage demands will allow us to hold a strike.”

A two-hour warning strike at PKP Cargo already took place on February 7, but the company’s management announced that it had a limited scope and did not cause trouble for its customers. The management emphasized in its statement that it offered a bonus of PLN 750, subject to the end of the collective dispute and signing of the collective work agreement by all parties. It also noted that it is ready for further talks with the social side.

“The collective dispute is not the worst thing in PKP Cargo. From the second carrier in Europe, a company was made which is in a dire situation today. This is evidenced by the results published on the Stock Exchange, which show that it has indebted over PLN 2 billion. Trade unions have repeatedly applied to carry out a rehabilitation process of the company, to restructure it, to adapt it to the market. Unfortunately, this is not happening today. We are waiting for possible changes in the management, we have addressed this to the Minister of State Assets, Borys Budka. Unfortunately, after more than a month, we received an answer that essentially this company is not in the portfolio of the Minister of State Assets, that it is a matter of PPKP SA and we really do not know if anything is planned there,” says the president of ZZM. “Today, over 14,000 employees work in the PKP Cargo company, who do not know if they will have their salaries paid by the end of the year. The situation is dire and there are no actions aimed at improving it.”

According to company data, PKP Cargo transported 62 million tons of cargo in the period January-September 2023, marking a year-to-year decrease of 18%. Freight work reached a level of 16 921 million ton-kilometers, 16% less than the previous year. At the same time, over the three quarters, PKP Cargo earned over 4.1 billion PLN from contracts with clients, a year-to-year increase of 9%. The net profit of the group reached 102 million PLN, compared to a 4.7 million PLN loss in the same period last year. The publication of annual results is scheduled for March 27.

Check out our other content
Related Articles
The Latest Articles