Date Released: 26 September 2014
SIPTU activists were to the fore at the launch of the Trade Unions ‘Support Poles Abroad’ initiative in the conference centre of the Communications Workers’ Union, Dublin 1, on Friday, 26th September.
The joint initiative, by Congress and the foundation Wsparcie, is part of a wider project which aims to connect unions across Europe with Polish unions in order to better support Polish migrant workers. SIPTU members and other trade unionists from across the country attended the event, as did Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality, Aodhán Ó’Ríordáin.
Speaking at the event, SIPTU organiser Joanna Ozdarska said it is vital that Polish and other migrant workers join a trade union in order to avoid being discriminated against and to support their integration into communities.
Anna Wianowska, a shop steward in Ferrero Rocher in Cork spoke of her experiences as a SIPTU member. She said she was proud of her role as a representative of all workers in her factory.
“Being in SIPTU has given me confidence to speak out and given me the opportunity to help people every day, to work to improve their lives. I have learnt that together people through their unions can change things,” she said.
SIPTU Campaigns and Equality Organiser, Ethel Buckley, said: “This initiative is an important step in the trade union movement’s ongoing work to ensure workers from all backgrounds are fully aware of their employment and social rights.
“SIPTU is continuing to play a leading role in seeking to increase Polish workers’ participation and integration within local trade unions structures. Our union currently has over 7,000 Polish members. In recent years our organisers have worked to increase contacts with the Polish community throughout Ireland. We believe that the increased diversity of our membership ensures the continued strength of our organisation”.
A Migrant Worker Organising Film by the SIPTU Manufacturing Division was premiered at the event.
Among those appearing in the short film is agribusiness worker, Wieslaw Stack.
He said: “From the moment I became a SIPTU shop steward I felt better as I was no longer one worker dealing with management but a representative of many people. From this moment I felt I could really change things for the better”.
The use of social media in assisting the organisation of Polish workers was also discussed. During the conference, SIPTU issued Facebook and Twitter updates in Polish and English.